[R] Current state of support for BUGS access for Linux users?

Uwe Ligges ligges at statistik.uni-dortmund.de
Tue Jan 17 08:50:05 CET 2006

Paul Johnson wrote:
> Greetings:
> I'm going to encourage some students to try Bayesian ideas for
> hierarchical models.
> I want to run the WinBUGS and R examples in Tony Lancaster's An
> Introduction to Modern Bayesian Econometrics.  That features MS
> Windows and "bugs" from R2WinBUGS.
> Today, I want to ask how people are doing this in Linux? I have found
> a plethora of possibilities, some of which are not quite ready, some
> of which work only under MS Windows.  Right now I just want to know
> "what actually works".
> Here's where I stand now in Fedora Core 4 Linux.
> 1. OpenBUGS-2.1.1 runs in Linux.  I can run "linbugs" (the console
> version similar to the old BUGS) and also I can run--under wine--the
> newest version of "winbugs.exe" that is circulated with OpenBUGS.  As
> far as I can tell, the graphical interface in wine/winbugs works in
> almost all elements.  A few things seem not quite right in the GUI
> (can't initialize more than one chain, difficult to specify variables
> for monitoring), but it does work.
> It is easier to install and work with OpenBUGS's version of
> winbugs.exe than with Winbugs-1.4 because the Open version does not
> have that annoying license registration and "winbugs.exe" is not
> wrapped inside an installation script.   I'm a little confused about
> WinBUGS versions because the BRugs documents
> http://www.biostat.umn.edu/~brad/software/BRugs/BRugs_install.html
> refer to WinBUGS-1.5, which refers to
> http://www.biostat.umn.edu/~brad/software/BRugs/WinBUGS15.zip, which
> can be downloaded without any of the registration steps, but WinBUGS15
> is not mentioned in the WinBUGS site (where 1.4.1 appears to be the
> newest).
> Supposing I get the winbugs.exe question settled:
> 2. How to most dependably send jobs from R to "linbugs" or "winbugs.exe"?
> The BRugs package is preferred?
> For a long time, R2WinBUGS was Windows-only, but toward the end of
> last fall I noticed that R2WinBUGS now does compile and install under
> R in Linux.
> however, its help still says:
> SystemRequirements:   WinBUGS 1.4 on Windows
> I'd appreciate any advice.

[resend to less recipients in order to save Martin's spare time to 
approve message;
CCing Andrew Thomas, Bob O'Hara and Sibylle Sturtz separately]

WinBUGS-1.5 never got really released, AFAIK - Andrew or Bob might want
to correct me. It has been renamed to OpenBUGS. The current version is
the GPL'ed OpenBUGS 2.1.1 available from

Re R packages:
- R2WinBUGS is compatible with WinBUGS-1.4.x only, its newest version
can speak with WinBUGS under wine thanks to user contributions. But it
still depends on WinBUGS-1.4.x, hence Windows only (considering wine as
- BRugs contains the BRugs interface, R functions and the whole OpenBUGS
installation. Unfortunately, due to serious compiler problems, we were
not able to get a Linux version running using the interface. Hence it
was not possible to release any non-Windows version up to now.
I haven't tested BRugs under wine yet (in which case R has to run under
wine as well, of course) ... and I do not know if there are any serious
performance penalties.
Note that even in the long term, OpenBUGS will only run on x86 based

Due to the much more flexibile interface, I prefer BRugs.

BTW: "Real programmers" won't consider R2WinBUGS to be an "interface" at
all - it might be useful, though. ;-)

Uwe Ligges

> --
> Paul E. Johnson
> Professor, Political Science
> 1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
> University of Kansas
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