Re: [Rd] Replacements for stdout and stderr guaranteed to be open in all versions of R

From: David Sterratt <>
Date: Sat, 12 May 2012 22:40:21 +0100

On Fri, 2012-05-11 at 18:36 -0400, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
> On 12-05-11 5:36 PM, David Sterratt wrote:
> > Looking at
> >
> > it would appear that R_Consolefile and R_Outputfile only point to open
> > files when CharacterMode == RTerm, not in GUI mode.
> >
> > Therefore my question is, are there any replacements for stdout and
> > stderr that work across all versions of R?
> I'm pretty sure the answer is "no". What you can do is have your
> initialization code open a new handle (pointing to something that is not
> stdout, e.g. a file), and then pass that to the Qhull function.

Thanks for your answer Duncan - it's lead me to the following solution, which seems to work even with mcapply() in the multicore package, which I thought might prove problematic.

In every file that refers to stdout, include (via

PKG_CPPFLAGS = -include myheader.h

in the Makevars file):

        /* myheader.h */
        FILE * tmpstdout;
        #undef stdout
        #define stdout tmpstdout

Then in the file in which the function_requiring_FILE(double arg, FILE * fp) is called:

        /* myfile.h */
        #include <Rembedded.h>          /* For R_tmpnam() */
        #include <unistd.h>             /* For unlink() */
        void my_function(double arg) {
          const char *name;
          name = R_tmpnam("Rf", R_TempDir);
          tmpstdout = fopen(name, "w");
          exitcode = function_requiring_FILE(arg, tmpstdout);
          free((char *) name); 

It's not exactly elegant, but it works for Linux, Mac and Windows (Rterm and Rgui). I suppose I could use defines to use R_Consolefile for platforms with Rinterface.h, but unless the above code is dangerous when there are multiple threads, I will stick with it.


David C Sterratt, Research Fellow. Tel: (+44) 131 651 1739
Institute for Adaptive and Neural Computation
School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh
Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK

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