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

Simon Urbanek simon.urbanek at r-project.org
Thu Jan 31 19:23:37 CET 2008


On Jan 31, 2008, at 1:00 PM, Rob Goedman wrote:

> Thanks for your input. As some others noted, we might need some more
> input to really be able to work on this problem.
> I do know of a sure way to crash R.app (up to R-2.7-devel).
> Below very simple lattice graphics example will crash R.app after
> switching to the display to full screen (green button) and back
> once or sometimes several times.

Thanks for refreshing my memory - I have completely forgotten about  
that. I'll see if we can at least get some work-around (even if it  
means disabling that button as a last resort ;)).


> I have been caught by this problem while teaching/using R.
> Could that be a/the possible reason for the crashes? By the way,
> if you manually enlarge/shrink the quartz() window the problem
> (crash) does not occur. Simon and I have been aware of this
> issue but have not been able to find the cause. As far as I
> recall it has been there for about 2 years (in fact since the
> last lattice upgrade) and for me was the main reason to switch
> to using an external editor. Once I figured out it was the little
> green button, I felt more confident showing the nice internal
> editor features to new users.
> The updated graphics in R-2.7-devel does solve this issue,
> but of course R-2.7 is still out some time and is not
> of release quality yet.
> Rob
> <xyplot.R>
> 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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