[R] Windows Vista issues

John Fox jfox at mcmaster.ca
Sat Apr 14 14:25:26 CEST 2007

Dear Brian,

I don't yet have a Vista machine, but it occurs to me that some of these
problems might be avoided if R installed by default into c:\R rather than
c:\Program Files\R. Is that the case?

Thank you, by the way, for pursuing these issues.


John Fox
Department of Sociology
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario
Canada L8S 4M4

> -----Original Message-----
> From: r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch 
> [mailto:r-help-bounces at stat.math.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of Prof 
> Brian Ripley
> Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2007 1:57 AM
> To: R-help at R-project.org
> Subject: [R] Windows Vista issues
> It seemed FUD [*] has been prevailing here and elsewhere on 
> Vista security features.
> I asked our sysadmins to set up a Vista box for me on which I 
> have access to all levels of accounts.  Many of the issues I 
> found were covered by earlier answers and all in the upcoming 
> rw-FAQ (currently available at 
> http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/pub/R/rw-FAQ.html and in the 2.5.0 
> pre-releases) but a quick reprise may help.
> Most of my testing was of 2.5.0 beta, but I did some quick 
> tests of 2.4.1.
> 1) The R installer and uninstaller are from an 'unidentified 
> publisher' 
> and you may have to agree that you trust them.  This is a 
> problem of the Inno Setup installer kit we use.  An 
> ultra-cautious sysadmin could configure Vista to stop you 
> installing via such a program.
> 2) Permission problems:
> If you install R as an ordinary user (into your own file 
> space) you should see no permissions problems.  (There would 
> have been problems, including under XP, with some recent 
> daily binary builds as the installer kit had changed one of 
> its defaults to disallow non-administrator installs, but 
> these have been fixed.)
> I also encountered no problems installing R under the 
> Administrator account (normally hidden) and installing 
> packages under the same account.
> Things are more complicated if you use an account which is in 
> the local administrator group (but is not Administrator 
> itself).  Such accounts are no longer (by default) equivalent 
> to Administrator, and run programs as ordinary user accounts. 
> They need to 'Run as Administrator' to do things in the 
> system area such as C:\Program Files.  You will be asked if 
> you want to run as administrator if you try to install 
> software such as R, but you will not be asked if you try to 
> install packages in the main R library (since asking is 
> something that applies to a program, not part of a particular 
> session).  One simple solution is to elevate your credentials 
> when running an R session to install packages in the same way 
> that you needed to when installing R.  (Unix and MacOS X 
> users will recognize a somewhat automated reincarnation of 'sudo'.)
> It looks like the best practice will be to change the (full) 
> ownership of the R installation to the account used to 
> install it, something which would be standard practice in the 
> Unix world.  Also, we are encouraging people as from 2.5.0 to 
> install packages into a site or personal library where these 
> permission issues should not arise (except when updating 
> recommended packages).
> 3) The most worrying problem is that Vista is reporting quite 
> incorrectly file permissions through the POSIX interfaces 
> used by file.info() and file.access(), and furthermore 
> allowed me as a standard user to create directories in areas 
> over which it says I do not have write permission. We will 
> look further into possible solutions, but it seems the Win32 
> API functions are giving the same answers.
> Problems with 'access' (the C call underlying file.access()) 
> mean that the MinGW compilers do not currently run on Vista 
> without a lot of hoop-jumping.
> [*] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear,_uncertainty_and_doubt
> -- 
> Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
> Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
> University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
> 1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
> Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595
> ______________________________________________
> R-help at stat.math.ethz.ch mailing list
> https://stat.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-help
> PLEASE do read the posting guide 
> http://www.R-project.org/posting-guide.html
> and provide commented, minimal, self-contained, reproducible code.

More information about the R-help mailing list