[R-SIG-Mac] help: R on Mac's is "buggy", department reconsidering

William Revelle lists at revelle.net
Thu Jan 31 18:42:41 CET 2008

  In addition to the comments by Kasper and Max, may I add two points:

1) I am delighted that another psych department is pushing R for 
undergrads and grads.  I have been doing so here with limited success.
I have been able to get undergrads in both my research methods class 
and a more advanced class getting comfortable with it and doing some 
basic analyses.  Some of our grad students are R converts as well. 
Among the faculty, however, it is much slower going.

2) Running R 2.6.1 with Mac 10.4+ or 10.5.1  on Intel and G4/G5s  and 
the Mac Gui I have almost no crashes of R.  Running 2.7.0 
(development, unstable) I have just a few.

Make sure the students download 2.6.1 and packages that come with 
that configuration.


At 9:23 AM -0800 1/31/08, Kasper Daniel Hansen wrote:
>Let me preempt Simon a bit and suggest that you give us very precise 
>information about what happens. Especially these days since "Mac" 
>actually covers 4 different architectures, several versions of the OS 
>and several compilers.
>1) Get a crash report and send it to Simon. If it is so easy to get R 
>to crash it should be easy to get a report.
>2) What version of R and the GUI was installed and exactly on what 
>machine? How did you install packages? Which compiler was used 
>(include gcc version and build number)?
>On Jan 31, 2008, at 8:40 AM, Matthew Keller wrote:
>>  Hello all,
>>  I dread writing this because it may come across as being ungrateful to
>>  the hard work of those (esp. Simon Urbanek) who have made an otherwise
>>  fantastic R interface for the mac. Nevertheless...
>>  I do most of my work in R using Aquamacs and had, until recently,
>>  little interaction with the R Gui. People in my department (psychology
>>  at CU Boulder) are mainly mac users, and a few of us (including the
>>  chair and the statistics professors) are making a push to make our
>>  department an "R" department (such that it is the package taught to
>>  undergrads and grad students). I have been teaching a four week intro
>>  to the R language this semester to students, postdocs, and faculty,
>>  and the undergrad stats professors have taken the leap and are
>>  teaching R in the undergrad stats classes this semester. So far so
>>  good... but...
>>  There is beginning to be a backlash, not from what I had expected ("R
>>  is too user unfriendly"... this doesn't seem to come up!), but rather
>>  that R is "too buggy" and crashes too often. Since switching to the R
>>  Gui to teach this class, I myself have had R crash several times
>>  (previously a rare occurrence when I used Aquamacs). I cannot find a
>>  rhyme or reason to when it happens. The students/colleagues in my
>>  class who are mac users also complain about it (none of the windows
>>  users have). And this morning, an email went out from one of the
>>  undergrad stats teachers who said much the same thing (see his email
>>  below).
>>  Being one of the people who really pushed for this switch to R, I hate
>>  to see it go down in flames because of this. I have considered trying
>>  to teach using R via Aquamacs, but this presents its own set of
>>  difficulties.
>>  Does anyone out there who has experience with the R Gui for Macs have
>>  any suggestions re making it more stable? Are there steps we can take
>>  or advice we can give to students that would lessen the number of
>>  crashes we are experiencing? Might the crashes be due to the newness
>>  of the Leopard OS, etc?
>>  I apologize for breaking the listserve rules - I have not given a good
>>  explanation of the conditions under which these crashes occur. I could
>>  try to get the students to document exactly when they happen and send
>>  a summary back out to the list if this would be helpful.
>>  I really want this (our department's switch to R) to go through, but I
>>  am afraid the "bugginess of R" may be jeopardizing this. Any help
>  > would be most appreciated. And as I said before, thank you to the
>>  people who have selflessly spent their time making the R Gui - I
>>  wouldn't even know where to start! Best,
>>  Matt
>>  <message from an undergrad stats prof here at CU> :
>>  In the labs for my course, the R GUI has been buggy - i.e. will 
>>  crash at
>>  random times. I thought this had to do with using R Commander, but 
>>  after
>>  looking into it further, it has nothing to do with R Commander - 
>>  when I
>>  ran through some of the tutorial/homework for my course using the R 
>>  GUI
>>  (rather than R Commander) the crashes were still there.  I also 
>>  thought
>>  it might have to do with computing labs (perhaps installing ALL R
>>  packages created the problem), but a quick survey in my course 
>>  suggested
>>  that people's personal apple computers are experiencing the same 
>>  thing.
>>  Greg and Matt Keller also mentioned to me that some of their students
>>  were having issues with the R GUI on Mac OS X. As everyone knows, 
>>  there
>>  are A LOT of Mac users in the undergrad student body.
>>  As far as I can tell (after discussing with Matt Keller), it has 
>>  nothing
>>  to do with the R "engine" - it's all about the R GUI interface (for
>>  example, I've never had a problem submitting R jobs in pseudo-batch
>>  mode).  I get slightly less buggy-ness on my Mac (intel dual-core,
>>  Leopard), but there are still some issues.
>>  Anyway, no real action items here other than to note that it 
>>  appears to
>>  be fairly common. The students are tolerating it, and I just keep
>>  telling them that it's "free" and "free" always comes at a price. If
>>  anyone has stumbled a more stable configuration, please let me know!
>>  --
>>  Matthew C Keller
>>  Asst. Professor of Psychology
>>  University of Colorado at Boulder
>>  www.matthewckeller.com
>>  _______________________________________________
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William Revelle		http://personality-project.org/revelle.html
Professor			http://personality-project.org/personality.html
Department of Psychology             http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/psych/
Northwestern University	http://www.northwestern.edu/
Use R for statistics:                          http://personality-project.org/r

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