[R] installing R on Ubuntu

Gavin Simpson gavin.simpson at ucl.ac.uk
Mon Feb 9 11:06:28 CET 2009

On Sun, 2009-02-08 at 16:21 -0500, Jonathan Baron wrote:
> For those reading this thread who might be thinking of trying Linux, I
> would like to point out that, with Fedora (another distribution of
> Linux aside from Ubuntu), the repositories are up to date, and there
> seems to be someone connected with Fedora (as well as the R core team)
> who is interested in keeping them that way.
> [Others should stop reading now.  This is just for those considering
> Fedora.]
> There are several ways to install programs in the form of "rpm"s.
> (Originally stood for "Red Hat Package Manager.")  Perhaps the
> simplest is, as root:
> yum install R
> This gets you a lot of additional rpm's ("dependencies") if you don't
> have them.
> Fedora also maintains rpm's of various R packages, a seemingly random
> selection of them, but you don't need to depend on Fedora for those.
> Once R is installed, you can invoke R as root and then say, for
> example, from the prompt:
> >install.packages("lmer")

Hi Jon,

As much as I love Fedora (and I've used it from Core 1 onwards and
haven't been swayed by Ubuntu's lovely brownness), I should point out
that it need *not* be as simple as you make out on Fedora. Your
install.packages("foo") invocation does require that you have installed
all the build tools and development packages required to compile "foo"
from source.

Where "foo" does not depend upon external libraries being on your system
(and their development headers), it is often as easy as you make out.
Try building "rgl" with a simple Fedora installation however and you'll
soon hit a brick wall. (I, being fairly impatient, just installed
anything mesa or GLU -devel from the yum repo until I got rgl to
compile, but I had to know to look as MESA or GLU or whatever it was...)

As to the version of R in Fedora's package repository being up-to-date,
I think this reflects more the nature of Fedora being a bleeding-edge
distro, whereas Debian is much more focussed on stability. From time to
time on this list, getting the latest version of R on Debian/Ubuntu
comes up and Dirk or someone IIRC points out that the latest version has
been packaged but just not in the stable package repository. The latest
version is there, thanks to the efforts of these third parties, but you
need to know where to grab it from. This is a difference in philosophy
surrounding the different distributions, not an ease of use or
more-up-to-datedness issue.

This all boils down to knowing how to use your distro and knowing a bit
about the packaging systems on Linux and your particular flavour of
Linux. (Something Linux could do a lot better at...)

IMHO, compiling from source on Fedora is easier than dealing with a
mixture of rpm packages in Fedora's package repositories and having to
compile from source those packages that aren't. If you can compile
packages from source then you can (most likely) compile R itself, and
then you can run it from wherever you want and you won't need to run it
as root to install/update packages. And then you can be as bleeding edge
as you like...

My 4p worth (the pound isn't what it once was...)


> If you want to install ess and xemacs, I think all you need to say is
> yum install xemacs-ess-el
> which will install, as dependencies, everything else you need,
> including xemacs if you don't have it.
> Although Ubuntu is recommended for Linux newbies, it may be the case
> that Fedora is a little easier, at least about this.  Warning: Fedora
> is pure about open-source licenses, which means that many
> closed-source programs that you might want, like Adobe Flash, Skype,
> and some drivers, won't be there unless you get them yourself (and you
> can do that).
> Jon
 Dr. Gavin Simpson             [t] +44 (0)20 7679 0522
 ECRC, UCL Geography,          [f] +44 (0)20 7679 0565
 Pearson Building,             [e] gavin.simpsonATNOSPAMucl.ac.uk
 Gower Street, London          [w] http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucfagls/
 UK. WC1E 6BT.                 [w] http://www.freshwaters.org.uk

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 197 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part
URL: <https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help/attachments/20090209/2071756d/attachment-0002.bin>

More information about the R-help mailing list