[R] R on netbooks et al?

Douglas Bates bates at stat.wisc.edu
Sun Mar 8 18:44:18 CET 2009

On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 7:08 AM, Michael Dewey <info at aghmed.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:
> At 08:47 05/03/2009, herrdittmann at yahoo.co.uk wrote:
>> Dear useRs,
>> With the rise of netbooks and 'lifestyle laptops" I am tempted to get one
>> of these to mainly run R on it. Processor power and hard disk space seem to
>> be ok. What I wonder is the handling and feel with respect to R.
>> Has anyone here installed or is running R on one of these, and if so, what
>> is your experience? Would it be more of a nice looking gadget than a
>> feasable platform to do some stats on?
> One issue is whether you wish to use Linux or Windows. If you do use Linux I
> would advise picking a netbook with one of the standard distributions. The
> early EEE PC had Xandros and dire warnings about using the Debian
> repositiories. In fact I had no problem despite a total lack of experience
> although I am not sure what will happy with the recent move to lenny.

Because I have used Debian Linux and Debian-based distributions like
Ubuntu for many years, I installed a eee-specific version of Ubuntu
within a day or two of getting an ASUS eee pc1000.  There are
currently at least two versions of Ubuntu, "easy peasy" and eeebuntu,
that are specific to the eee pc models.  I started with "easy peasy"
at the time it was called something else (Ubuntu eee?) and later
switched to eeebuntu.   In both cases packages for the latest versions
of R from the Ubuntu package repository on CRAN worked flawlessly.

I find the netbook to be very convenient.  Having a 5 hour battery
life and a weight of less than 3 pounds is wonderful.  I teach all of
my classes with it and even use it at home (attached to a monitor, USB
keyboard and mouse and an external hard drive) in lieu of a desktop
computer.  (I have been eyeing the "eee box" covetously but have not
yet convinced myself that I really need yet another computer).  I
develop R packages on it and don't really notice that it is
"under-powered" by today's standards.  Of course, when I started
computing and even when I started working with the S language the
memory capacity of computers was measured in kilobytes so the thought
of "only" 1Gb of memory doesn't cause me to shriek in horror.

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