[R-SIG-Mac]Package distribution for Macintosh R

Jan de Leeuw deleeuw@stat.ucla.edu
Mon, 17 Jun 2002 20:02:27 -0700

That would be nice, no more binaries. In fact, I stopped building
them, telling everybody to use fink, but it seems very few people
actually listened. And using the fink version of R is less flexible,
of course. Other problems with no-binaries:

-- typical Macintosh users are proud to stay away from the command line
-- more is needed than the Apple Development tools (i.e.
     from fink we need dlcompat, X11, gnome perhaps)
-- the Apple DevTools are changing rapidly and have various
     incompatibilities (the December 2001 tools, the April 2002
     tools, the Jaguar Tools)
-- as a consequence the developer must choose between
     various versions of gcc and g77 or f2c
--  does the typical user know about ATLAS ? Another choice.
-- no-more-binaries implies that the typical R user has the 
     DevTools installed (and maintains a personal version of
-- it seems to me that for other Unixes R and its packages are
    also distributed as binaries (for the same reason). Every Unix
    distribution must provide binaries of the recommended
-- packages in the Carbon version  are binaries because the
     typical R user does not know (and probably cannot be
     asked to know) how to build shared libraries on the OS 9
     platform. tools (MPW, CodeWarrior) are readily available.
-- many of the packages depend on other libraries (netpbm,
     hdf5, MySQL, MPI, PVM, and so on) being present. Again, often
    fink comes to the rescue, but the user needs to maintain all this in
-- building some of the OmegaHat packages is far from
     easy, and can perhaps never be made easy
-- the Darwin/X11 distribution is already like all other
     Unix distributions, except that I provide a ridiculous
     number of binaries
-- next week I will have OS X installer packages for the
     whole thing, and users only need to know how to
     double=click, and only have to deal with a single
     installer file.
-- with the Quartz device and the Cocoa interfaces things
     will become easier for the user, but harder for the developer
     (need to know more stuff, need to have more stuff)

Now eventually the DevTools and OS X itself will stabilize, and
the various configure problems will be worked out (currently,
ATLAS does not build properly with the April tools and gcc2 with
its g77, and R does not build with gcc3 and its g77). Then
things will become much easier, and many more people will
roll their own. Especially when they are happy with X11 and
the command line. And that's good, because making your own
provides a better understanding of the whole environment and
allows you to optimize towards your own machine and your own

On Monday, Jun 17, 2002, at 18:08 America/Los_Angeles, Roger Peng wrote:

> With the growing adoption of OS X and the soon-to-be discontinued Carbon
> version of R, I have a question about how packages will continue to be
> distributed for the Macintosh version of R.  This question arose from some
> discussions over developing a GUI for Macintosh R and perhaps
> incorporating a rudimentary "package manager".
> Currently, it seems that for the Carbon version, one must rely on
> precompiled binary versions of the packages (.sit files) due to the
> scarcity of development tools on Mac OS < X. The situation here is similar
> to that of the Windows platform where packages are precompiled and
> downloaded as .zip files.  While compilation of source packages on either
> of these platforms is far from impossible, it is not entirely
> straightforward and probably out of the realm of the average R user.
> On the other hand, Unix users, with the exception of a few Linux
> distributions, must essentially build R from source and install packages
> from source.  However, if the user's installation of Unix has a working
> development environment (i.e. C, Fortran compiler, Perl, etc.), and most
> do, then this can be very straightforward.  Similarly, given a good R
> installation, Unix users can use install.packages() and friends to
> install, update (and compile) packages.  Forcing (even casual) Unix users
> to rely on this setup does not seem to cause a huge problem.
> For the Darwin/X11/Quartz version of R, it seems that we are (perhaps
> unnecessarily?) taking the Carbon/Windows approach, with Jan building
> compiled versions of all the packages (as well as R itself).  My question
> is are we going to continue this approach to package distribution or
> should we abandon the precompilation method and just let users build
> packages from source?  With gcc, g77, perl, latex, etc. appearing on OS X
> it seems that we could allow the package distribution setup for OS X
> mirror more closely that of the standard Unix platform.
> -roger
> _______________________________
> UCLA Department of Statistics
> rpeng@stat.ucla.edu
> http://www.stat.ucla.edu/~rpeng
> _______________________________________________
> R-SIG-Mac mailing list
> R-SIG-Mac@stat.math.ethz.ch
> http://www.stat.math.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/r-sig-mac
Jan de Leeuw; Professor and Chair, UCLA Department of Statistics;
US mail: 9432 Boelter Hall, Box 951554, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1554
phone (310)-825-9550;  fax (310)-206-5658;  email: deleeuw@stat.ucla.edu
homepage: http://www.stat.ucla.edu/~deleeuw
           No matter where you go, there you are. --- Buckaroo Banzai