[Rd] Re: [R-SIG-Mac] R version on gifi

Simon Urbanek Simon.Urbanek at math.uni-augsburg.de
Tue Jun 17 15:33:16 MEST 2003

On Monday, June 16, 2003, at 08:45  PM, Don MacQueen wrote:

> Specifically for X11, does it assume the user has separately installed 
> Apple's X11 and QuartzWM, and if so, is it in any way dependent on 
> anything unique to Apple's X11? That is, will it work if the user is 
> using XFree86/XDarwin and some (any) other window manager?

The really native version doesn't really need to depend on X11 anymore 
since the use of X11 on Mac OS X was meant for applications that are 
not properly ported to OS X yet. Once Quartz and RAqua are complete 
there is no need for X11.

>> This means that all references to /sw in configure.ac can go.
> Do you mean that at some point in the future you intend that the 
> configure.ac in the source distribution will remove all references to 
> /sw? I'm not sure this is a good idea; I think I would prefer to have 
> the option of building from sources using fink for those other things 
> (readline, jpeg, png, tetex, etc) if I want to. Otherwise I have to 
> learn how to get them from several other sites, increasing my system 
> maintenance load and making it harder to keep them up to date.
> Can you give specific and substantive reasons why fink should be 
> avoided?

Jan already listed the main technical reasons why it is indeed a very 
good idea. Apart from that, fink is not an official package and was 
only meant as a temporary solution for people who need a (no matter how 
ugly) way to run existing unix programs on OS X. Hardly any real OS X 
user has installed fink (especially since Jaguar is out). Fink was 
great during the first couple of months when native OS X ports were 
hardly existent, but is now obsolete for mainstream OS X use.

> I get the impression that R for OS X is being moved away from being 
> another unix R variant (in the sense that Solaris, various Linuxes, 
> SGI, etc. are unix variants), and moved toward being a specialized 
> platform-specific version. Assuming my impression is more or less 
> correct, I'd like to understand the pros and cons of this move.

It is not a "move" of R. Mac OS X is simply not "another unix variant". 
Darwin is indeed, but Mac OS X is not. You can compile X11 for Darwin 
and use it exactly the way you can use Linux on a PPC hardware. But Mac 
OS X has many very nice (often proprietary) layers that are important 
to the Mac users, but that part of OS X is not "unix". The goal here is 
to release R which fits in the philosophy of the system - ease of use, 
good integration with the existing frameworks, appealing design. These 
are not properties of unix, but of OS X. So what we need is in fact 
Mac-OS-X-like look and feel. The fact that OS X is unix-based helps 
with respect to the R engine itself - we need no special ports of 
packages anymore, but it has a totally different GUI.

Fortunately R makes a distinction between GUI and the engine, therefore 
we can create a real OS X GUI without affecting other platforms - 
including Darwin ;). "Unix" users are used to compile their own 
software, therefore moving fink support to the category 'optional' is 
only logical, since you can still easily enable it with configure 
parameters and/or environment settings. Real Mac OS X users are used to 
nice, binary distributions, therefore we cannot assume fink and we need 
Quartz device and RAqua. It will be a big help for most OS X users. 
(BTW: no Mac users I know (non-developers) have installed X11.)

Therefore the recent changes are IMHO really important from Mac OS X 
user's view - so far most binaries were rather experimental and assumed 
some unix knowledge (note: there was is no official OS X binary!). It 
was ok to use fink for those as a temporary solution, but the official 
binary cannot rely on unsupported non-Apple packages. The only thing 
external part we really need is libdl and I'm sure we can supply it 
simply with R - such as pcre etc., all other libraries are optional.



Simon Urbanek
Department of computer oriented statistics and data analysis
University of Augsburg
Universitätsstr. 14
86135 Augsburg

Tel: +49-821-598-2236
Fax: +49-821-598-2200

Simon.Urbanek at Math.Uni-Augsburg.de

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