[R] I am surprised (and a little irritated)

Tom Backer Johnsen backer at psych.uib.no
Thu Apr 20 11:15:58 CEST 2006

Gabor Csardi wrote:
> So you don't want to read that manual after all? :)

I did not say so, not at all.  The point is that it is not very 
helpful to say "Read the manual" when the the problem is very much one 
of not knowing where to look in the manual.  Instructions for 
installing on a particular distribution should be focused on the 
uninitiated, not the experiences users.
> The thing is that for Linux you cannot just develop a program which 'just
> installs' or 'just works' on any Linux system. (Or even if you could do
> that, it is not worth the effort.) This is because 'Linux' is just an
> operating system kernel, shells, compilers, window managers, GUI's are NOT
> part of it.

I know.  But it should be possible to do so for a few of the major 
distros.  According to some of the responses, some of them even 
include R in the installation.

> This is what Linux disributions are for. They are collections of software
> containing both the kernel and the user tools (compilers, shells, R, etc.). 
> There are many thousends of linux distribution and they are not at all
> compatible with each other. It might happen that R is packaged differently
> in a distribution than in another, etc. This is a tough world, but also
> gives you the freedom of choice, some people like it, some people don't.
> For a software package like R, it is absolutely impossible to ensure that it
> can be installed cleanly without any problems on all the (say) two thousend
> linux distributions. Usually the people who packaged the piece of software
> (R in this case) for the specific distribution are the ones who can help you
> with installation problems. (Not always, but very likely with your problem.)
> And for most suse packages these people are the suse developers.

I am not referring to 2000 distributions.  I am referring to one of 
the most popular ones, SUSE.
> This is why i suggested to post to the suse list. But you got some useful
> hints from helpful people here, so after all you are lucky. :)

Yes, I am grateful (in the most part) for the responses, where 
Ditlef's one was in particular very constructive.  But (a) I am 
interested in using R, (b) I want to try R on one of the major 
distributions of Linux (c) I do not succeed in doing so.  What I 
wonder is then:  How many others have made the same attempt, not 
succeeded, and then given up?  Which I do not intend to do.

> I might have overreacted this, but it is really irritating that you
> just take the result of the really hard work of many people, the R software,
> for free, and then complain about something which you could solve easily
> just by searching on google or in the R mailing list archive, or reading the
> suse manuals.

Yes, I think you are being oversensitive.  On the contrary, it is 
because I DO realize that there is an enormous effort involved in the 
development of R that I am surprised that the final step, making it 
available to users is so difficult in this particular case.  That is, 
as far as I can see, something that is (or should be) of concern to 
the advocates of R (where I regard myself as included).  That is the 
reason for my mail to the list.


| Tom Backer Johnsen, Psychometrics Unit,  Faculty of Psychology |
| University of Bergen, Christies gt. 12, N-5015 Bergen,  NORWAY |
| Tel : +47-5558-9185                        Fax : +47-5558-9879 |
| Email : backer at psych.uib.no    URL : http://www.galton.uib.no/ |

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