[R] Running R on Windows 2000 Terminal Services

Gavin Simpson gavin.simpson at ucl.ac.uk
Tue Apr 25 19:10:08 CEST 2006

On Tue, 2006-04-25 at 17:32 +0100, Barry Rowlingson wrote:
> 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'!

I think they meant more along the lines of one user running it - doing
nothing with R as the guys don't know how to use R - was causing issues,
rather than CPU load hitting 100% across all the 4-8 processors per
server (and there are lots of servers)

>   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'.

The system has SPSS, various Adobe products (Photoshop & Illustrator)
and tonnes of other apps I would consider more "number crunching" than
R, so I don't think this was a problem. I was deliberately vague as I
don't know what the actual problem was - we aren't allowed to know who
these IT people R but I have asked to speak to one of the WTS people to
see what the problem is. If I turn up anything I'll email R-Devel to see
if this is an R thing or a local thing.

> > 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'.

Thanks for this Barry - so we aren't talking about an incompatibility
per se with WTS.

>   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]?

Once you speak to the IT guys themselves they are incredibly helpful and
knowledgeable - getting to speak to them is more difficult

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

That was a funny show...



*  Note new Address, Telephone & Fax numbers from 6th April 2006  *
Gavin Simpson                 
ECRC & ENSIS                  [t] +44 (0)20 7679 0522
UCL Department of Geography   [f] +44 (0)20 7679 0565
Pearson Building              [e] gavin.simpsonATNOSPAMucl.ac.uk
Gower Street                  [w] http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucfagls/cv/
London, UK.                   [w] http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucfagls/

More information about the R-help mailing list