[R-SIG-Mac] Command Line Quartz Device in Yosemite

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Wed Oct 29 17:27:06 CET 2014

On 29/10/2014 14:10, Gábor Csárdi wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 9:57 AM, Grant Rettke <gcr at wisdomandwonder.com> wrote:
>> On Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 5:33 PM, Colin A. Smith <colin at colinsmith.org> wrote:
>>> First, it seems that under Yosemite, the default device is now x11 instead of quartz.
>> Just curious, why do you prefer the quartz device over the x11 device on OSX?
>> Starting out with quartz, I got a lot of crashes with R from homebrew
>> (15 times in a row using base plotting) and when I switched to x11 the
>> crashes stopped.

Note that the quartz device uses Apple technology and expects the Apple 
compilers to be used: 'homebrew' may not do so (we have seen crashes 
from attempting to use other Objective-C compilers).

> That's probably just your system or homebrew R. I have been using
> quartz as a default device on various machines and OSX versions for
> many years now, and never had a single crash.
> As for the reason, the quartz device looks *much* nicer  than the x11
> device, probably because of the (better) anti-aliasing. Also, you do
> not need to run an X server to use it.

I think it is more accurate to say that it looks much better than the 
*default* X11 device on OS X.  This is because the nicer device based on 
cairographics (which is the default everywhere else) is not the default 
for a standard build on OS X, and that is turn is because of historical 
problems[*] with fonts in cairographics on OS X.

If you sidestep OS X and install a different implementation of 
cairographics and different font handling libraries (and their fonts) 
you can get better results.

[*] Many still seem to be present: for example font-handling is very 
slow (especially when the device is first used), and font anti-aliasing 
is poor compared to X11() on Linux even from 2007.

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, University of Oxford
1 South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3TG, UK

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