[R] R on Linux - a primer

Mike Miller mbmiller+l at gmail.com
Thu Mar 18 07:13:11 CET 2010

Thanks for sharing the interesting information about cran2deb.  I was 
unaware of that project (but I did know that Dirk E. had been doing Octave 
and R binaries for Debian for years).  Dirk Eddelbuettel (you spelled his 
name correctly) and Charles Blundell gave a talk at UseR! 2009...


...where they seem to claim that they chose to develop for Debian partly 
because of its similarity to Ubuntu:

Common platform -- as Debian forms the base for Ubuntu and several other 
derivative or single-focus distributions

Audience -- given the reach of Debian and Ubuntu, large number of users 
can be reached with little effort

But that was in July.  This what he was saying in November:


And this is what he was saying a month ago:


I guess we just don't know if cran2deb works on Unbuntu and we don't know 
if Charles and Dirk will be providing binaries for Ubuntu.  Apparently, 
they want to reach the Ubuntu user base, but it is a lot of work for them 
and they aren't getting the resources they need to pull it off.


On Tue, 16 Mar 2010, Emmanuel Charpentier wrote:

> Le dimanche 14 mars 2010 à 18:04 -0400, Axel Urbiz a écrit :
>> Hi,
>> I'm looking to move from Windows into a 64-bit Linux environment. Which is
>> the best Linux Flavor to use within R? To install R on this environment, do
>> I need to do any compiling?
> I'd like to add two cents of folly to the (wise) advice you've received
> already.
> Indeed , Ubuntu is one very good distribution whose management system
> has made the care and feeding of a Linux system a *lot* easier for the
> not-so-system-oriented people like yours truly. Whereas my first
> contacts with a Unix-like system were about 30 years ago (Oh my, how
> time flies, and how far away are Xenix and our 68000 systems ...), I'm
> *still* not fond of system maintenance for it's own sake. Ubuntu added
> an (almost) fool-proof maintenance system to an excellent distribution
> called Debian, thus lowering the Linux entry bar to as low as it can be
> humanely made. Some pretended that "Ubuntu" was a code word for "I'm too
> stupid to configure Debian" ; quite untrue ! It only means "I'm too
> busy|lazy to configure Debian", which is a Good Thing (TM).
> But Debian has its strong points,  and one of them is *extremely* strong
> for an R user : Dirk Eddelbuettel (whose name I'm almost surely
> misspelling (sorry, Dirk !)) has created a marvelous system called
> cran2deb which routinely creates binary Debian packages from (almost)
> the 2000+ R packages available nowadays.
> That might look small change : the basic tools used for
> developing/compiling most R packages are small beer (at least by today's
> standards).But some of them might depend on fiendishly
> difficult-to-maintain foreign libraries. Dirk's cran2deb takes care of
> that and creates any information that Debian's dpkg maintenance system
> needs to automate *your* R maintenance chores by integrating them in
> Debian's maintenance scheme, which is as automatic as you can get
> without becoming an incomprehensible beast.
> In fact, cran2deb is so good that Im seriously tempted to go back to
> Debian (after almost 8 years of Debian use, Ubuntu's ease-of-use, easy
> access to no-so-exotic hardware drivers (and the then-incessant
> politically correct yack-yacking on some Debian mailing lists...) made
> me switch to an early Ubuntu distribution). I did not yet switch back
> (mostly for not-so-"superficial" hardware support reasons), but I
> maintain a backup Debian installation "for the hell of it" and to test
> waters. So far, they have been a lot less rough than they used to be,
> but there are still occasional rows (e. g. a recent gotcha with
> openoffice.org, which would have render myself unable to work with those
> d*mn Word files for about a month, or forced me to do a maual repair
> (which I hate...)).
> So consider Debian as a (desirable) alternative to Ubuntu.
> HTH,
> 					Emmanuel Charpentier, DDS, MSc
> 					<affiliation withdrawn,
> 					notwithstanding Frank Harrell's
> 					whims...>

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