[R] [R-SIG-Mac] How to interrupt an R process that hangs

Simon Urbanek simon.urbanek at r-project.org
Mon Mar 15 20:19:21 CET 2010

On Mar 15, 2010, at 14:42 , Adam D. I. Kramer wrote:

> +1--this is the single most-annoying issue with R that I know of.
> My usual solution, after accomplishing nothing as R spins idly for a  
> couple
> hours, is to kill the process and lose any un-saved work.   
> save.history() is
> my friend, but is a big delay when you work with big data sets as I  
> do, so I
> don't run it after every command.
> I have cc'd r-help here, however, because I experience this problem  
> with
> non-OSX R as well...when I run it in Linux or from the OSX command- 
> line (I
> compile R for Darwin without aqua/R-framework), the same thing  
> happens.
> Is there some way around this? Is this a known problem?

"Hanging" for a long period of time is usually caused by poorly  
written C/Fortran code. You can always interrupt R as long as it is in  
the R code. Once you load a package that uses native code (C/ 
Fortran/..) you have to rely on the sanity of the developer to call  
R_CheckUserInterrupt() or rchkusr() often enough (see 6.12 in R-ext).  
If you have some particular package that does not do that, I would  
suggest alerting the author. By definition this requires cooperation  
from authors, because interrupting random code forcefully (as it was  
possible many years ago) creates leaks and unstable states.


> Google searching suggests no solution, timeline, or anything, but the
> problem has been annoying users for at least twelve years:
> http://tolstoy.newcastle.edu.au/R/help/9704/0151.html
> Cordially,
> Adam
> On Mon, 15 Mar 2010, Matthew Keller wrote:
>> HI all,
>> Apologies for this question. I'm sure it's been asked many times, but
>> despite 20 minutes of looking, I can't find the answer. I never use
>> the GUI, I use emacs, but my postdoc does, so I don't know what to
>> tell her about the following:
>> Occasionally she'll mess up in her code and cause R to hang
>> indefinitely (e.g., R is trying to do something that will take days).
>> In these situations, is there an option other than killing R (and the
>> work you've done on your script to that point)?
>> Thank you,
>> Matthew Keller
>> -- 
>> Matthew C Keller
>> Asst. Professor of Psychology
>> University of Colorado at Boulder
>> www.matthewckeller.com
>> _______________________________________________
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>> R-SIG-Mac at stat.math.ethz.ch
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