[R] R on netbooks et al?

(Ted Harding) Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk
Sun Mar 8 19:20:50 CET 2009

On 08-Mar-09 17:44:18, Douglas Bates wrote:
> 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.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Doug. Given that devices like
the EeePC are marketed in terms of "less demanding" users, it's good
to know what it is like for a "hard user". Further related comments
would be welcome!

I have to agree about the RAM issue too. My once-trusty old Sharp
MZ-80B CP/M machine (early 1980s), with its 64KB and occupying
a good 0.25 m^3 of physical space, would have to be replicated
2^14 = 16384 times over to give the same RAM (and occupy some
400 m^3 of space, say 7.4m x 7.4m x 7.4m, or about the size of
my house). Now I have things on my desk, about the size of my
thumb, with 8MB in each.


E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding at manchester.ac.uk>
Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 08-Mar-09                                       Time: 18:20:45
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