[R-SIG-Mac] R ESS X11 issue possibly related to R tcltk crash under Mavericks...

Blair Christian blair.christian at gmail.com
Wed Jan 15 13:02:27 CET 2014

This is probably obvious to somebody with more knowledge than myself,
but I lost an hour or so to this problem.  This is description of an
odd Xquartz/R/ESS problem and resolution.  It's odd because what
seemed like an ESS problem was resolved by reinstalling Xquartz.
Hopefully it will help somebody else out.

I have installed R+ESS on 4 machines (2008-2013) running 10.8 and 10.9
in the last couple months, several of them identical on the software
side (matching versions of OS X (10.9.1), R (3.0.2), Emacs (24.3), ESS
(13.09) and Xquartz (2.7.5).  I just wiped a 2008 macbook air
yesterday, reinstalled R, ess, emacs for mac, Xquartz (all newest
versions- only difference was that I git cloned the dev version of
ESS) and observed the following behavior:

When invoked from the terminal command line, R behaved "normally" when
invoking X11()/plot/capabilities().  However, when any of those
commands were issued in an ESS session in R/emacs, R would close
without invoking X11 (not segfault crash, just close gracefully, as if
I had issued q('yes')).  I started going back to previous versions of
ESS because R functioned normally from the command line and I had git
cloned the dev version of ESS (13.09-01) and thought that it was the
culprit, but that didn't work.

I spent some time searching, and ran across Claudia's post here on
r-sig-mac and couldn't tell if the problem I had was identical, but it
was related enough for me to give it a shot. I went to reinstall
Xquartz (2.7.5, fresh download) and afterwards the problem was

Possibly Useful Notes/Confounding Issue:
On this old laptop (macbook air 2008/os x 10.9.1/1.86 GHz intel core 2
duo/2Gb ram) the reinstall of Xquartz would say "Install time
remaining: about one minute", but in reality there was a fontconfig
process (fc-cache) that took about 7-8 minutes to complete. Possibly
related to this Xquartz 2.7.5 fontconfig cache rebuild issue?

In previous attempts to reinstall Xquartz, I had killed the fc-cache
process after 4-6 minutes.  I read up on it some more and from the
command line viewed installed fonts
sudo /opt/X11/bin/fc-cache -v -s
and all installed fonts were valid, it just took a while and being
patient paid off.  So I have no idea if this fc-cache command is
causing me alone problems or if others are affected.

In a fit of desperation in the middle of the troubleshooting, I had
removed the font cache, so that confounded my description above.
sudo atsutil databases -remove
atsutil server -shutdown
atsutil server -ping

If anybody knows definitively if this was appropriate/inappropriate, I
would be interested in hearing about it.  Hopefully this helps
somebody else out.

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