[R-SIG-Mac] Homebrew [was: from Mac to LInux?]

Simon Urbanek @|mon@urb@nek @end|ng |rom R-project@org
Thu Apr 2 22:30:45 CEST 2020

> On 2/04/2020, at 9:15 PM, Patrick Schratz <patrick.schratz using gmail.com> wrote:
> AFAIK most people on that list would vote hard against installing R via homebrew for several reasons - maybe there should be a section about this on the R dev / CRAN page to address this topic, @Simon? Otherwise this will come up again and again.

That main objection is that people are mixing Homebrew with CRAN and vice-versa which leads to many problems. You cannot use packages from CRAN when using Homebrew, period, and you have to be really careful if you want to mix Homebrew libraries (not anything R-related) with CRAN (it is doable if you know what you're doing).

The fundamental issue is that package managers like Homebrew replace system libraries with their own (for new features/updates that the system libraries don't provide) which break anything that relies on the system library. Out of all the package managers Homebrew the only one that is trying to address the issue by trying to separate them, but even that has been diverging over time.

The second issue is that they are increasingly replacing toolchains (compilers) with their own builds, which makes everything incompatible in explosive ways (things just segfault). Making sure that a compiler toolchain is stable is actually non-trivial and many packager manager authors/maintainers have little experience with this. That used the be the primary reason to avoid them, because it was just normal that the released binaries were miscompiled and things would break all the time. Fortunately, I think that has gotten better over time.

If you stick only with Homebrew, then you're likely ok, but you're on your own and have to compile all packages form sources. Majority of our time as CRAN maintainers for the binary releases is about providing dependent libraries for packages and making sure things "just work". It is doable, just a lot of work, so by using Homebrew every user has to spend that time.

(FWIW I use Hombrew myself for tools, but not in /usr/local (I'm using /opt/brew) and I only put it on the PATH for the tools that I need, never to compile anything "native" against it.)


> Anyhow, this is also not relating to the initial topic of that thread and should probably discussed separately.
> On 2. Apr 2020, 10:04 +0200, Rainer M Krug <Rainer using krugs.de>, wrote:
>> I am using Homebrew on a Mac (two Macs - one at home, one at work) instead of the official R package, and I did not have any problems after upgrades - maybe I am lucky, maybe not as picky in defining “problem”, but my suggestion would be to try R from homebrew to install R.
>> OK - no support from here - I know.
>> And homebrew has also binary versions. What is missing, is a hombrew R package repository. Maybe an idea to create one?
>> Cheers,
>> Rainer
>>> On 2 Apr 2020, at 02:37, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan using gmail.com> wrote:
>>> On 01/04/2020 2:48 p.m., Carl Witthoft wrote:
>>>> If I should ask over at r-sig-debian instead of here, please tell me.
>>>> I don't wish to clog r-sig-mac with off-topic stuff.
>>>> I've been watching the massive headaches people are dealing with trying
>>>> to keep R fully compatible with each MacOS X upgrade, I'm wondering
>>>> whether replacing my iMac (2009) with a new Mac really makes sense from
>>>> an R - user point of view, as opposed to getting some inexpensive
>>>> desktop and installing Linux. I know I can run R and RStudio under
>>>> Linux, for example, but don't know what limitations, if any there are
>>>> when it comes to building packages from source, getting compatible
>>>> compilers, and so on.
>>>> What have some of you 'power R users' discovered when/if you tried to
>>>> build , or incorporate Bioconductor or other repository's packages under
>>>> Linux?
>>> If your iMac is still working, try installing Ubuntu or some other Linux on it. I think at that age Apple is no longer providing upgrades, but I just put Ubuntu on a 2008 iMac, and it works well. (I needed to upgrade the memory, but that just cost $40 for 4 GB.)
>>> So I got a $40 desktop, with a nice screen.
>>> Duncan Murdoch
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>> --
>> Rainer M. Krug, PhD (Conservation Ecology, SUN), MSc (Conservation Biology, UCT), Dipl. Phys. (Germany)
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>> Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
>> University of Zürich
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