[R] Running R on Windows 2000 Terminal Services

Barry Rowlingson B.Rowlingson at lancaster.ac.uk
Tue Apr 25 18:32:33 CEST 2006

Gavin Simpson wrote:
> Dear list,
> My employer uses a Windows 2000 Terminal Server-based system for its
> college-wide managed computer service - computers connect directly to
> the WTS servers for their sessions, using a Citrix ICA client. When I
> asked them to install R (Windows) on an older version of this service
> the IT guys installed it but pulled it for performance issues. I am
> trying to get them to try again but receiving little encouragement from
> them.

  'performance issues'? Well, if you have 100 students running MCMC 
simulations on one Windows 2000 TS box then you may well have 
'performance issues'!

  Perhaps the TS service isn't intended for people to do real computer 
work on, but is just for Office apps. Then you come along and want your 
students to do serious number crunching. At that point the MS Word 
writers experience what we used to call 'lag'.

> Does anyone on the list have experience of a similar set-up? If you do,
> I could use that as part of my argument to invest some time in sorting
> these issues out. I really want to get the Windows version of R
> installed for teaching because at the moment I subject my students to
> the rather hostile world of an archaic UNIX session to run R - for them
> at least.

  We have a couple of labs that are similar - we use Wyse Thin Client 
Xterminals which boot Thinstation Linux from a server and then connect 
to Windows 2003 TS machines using RDP or Ubuntu Linux boxes using XDMCP. 
We dont use Citrix ICA.

  'Performance issues' will depend very much on what you are doing. As a 
quick benchmark, last term we had 24 users in a lab all running Windows 
and running Matlab, Firefox, that kind of stuff. One dual 2.6GHz Xeon 
Dell with 4G Ram never went above 60% CPU usage. And we had another 
three similar Dells sitting idle waiting for installation. Sessions with 
R run regularly in these labs and we've never had 'performance issues'.

  So possibly your IT support are stalling. Do they regularly say "Have 
you tried switching it off and on again?" in response to a support query 


[1] Catchphrase of the tech support guys in comedy series 'The IT Crowd'

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