Re: [Rd] compiling R under cygwin

From: Duncan Murdoch <>
Date: Thu, 23 Aug 2007 21:15:05 -0400

On 23/08/2007 3:33 PM, Latchezar (Lucho) Dimitrov wrote:


>> -----Original Message-----
>> From:
>> [] On Behalf Of Prof Brian Ripley
>> Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2007 2:54 AM
>> To: Denham Robert
>> Cc:; Duncan Murdoch
>> Subject: Re: [Rd] compiling R under cygwin
>> On Thu, 23 Aug 2007, Denham Robert wrote:
>>>>> For various reasons,
>>>> I think it is only courteous to mention some good reasons
>> if you want
>>> to take up people's time.
>>> Some of the reasons we would like a cygwin version aren't
>> necessarily
>>> good reasons. We have been using cygwin for sometime,
>> mostly to deal
>>> with scripting in a combined windows/unix environment. We have a
>>> setup which allows windows users to run many scripts in the
>> same way
>>> as unix users. These scripts are often python or shell
>> scripts. We
>>> have R installed on the unix machines, and the system
>> administrators
>>> would like to be able to have R on windows in the same
>> environment.
>>> This set up also means that the administrator can fairly easily
>>> maintain the version of software used on all user's machines.
>>> Probably this could all be managed and still use the native windows
>>> version of R, but the administrator is familiar with cygwin
>> and they
>>> could manage this software in the same way they manage
>> other packages.
>> Yes, it could almost certainly be done with Rterm.exe.
>> The issue I came across was the so-called 'posix file paths'
>> that Cygwin uses. Most (but not all) Windows programs accept
>> file paths with / as the path separator, and most (but not
>> all, e.g. tar) Cygwin programs accept paths of the forn
>> c:/path/to/file. So provided you use that as your format,
>> interworking with Unix and Unix-like shells work fine. It
>> used to be the case that if you had just one drive C: then
>> Cygwin programs produced paths of the form /path/to/file that
>> also worked on Windows. Now they produce
>> /cygdrive/c/path/to/file that works nowhere else.
> I'm not sure what you mean by "produce" above but one can easily setup
> (by mount option) cygwin to use "/" instead of "/cygdrive/" so that your
> example above will become "/c/path/to/file". That's if you insist on
> using drive letters. Otherwise w/ proper mounting (in cygwin) one can
> have "usual" *nix dir tree.

The issue is compatibility with other Windows programs. /path/to/file works in lots of Windows programs, and is interpreted relative to the current drive. In the common situation where the user only has one partition which is mounted as C:, it works (as long as they didn't switch to a CD or USB drive).

/c/path/to/file wouldn't work anywhere but in Cygwin or similar.

Duncan Murdoch

> Regards,
> Latchezar
> PS. I really like the idea of having (the same) bare terminal/command
> window interface to R anywhere as well as anything else (like admin
> tasks above) to be the same. So please put my vote (if you care) to have
> R Windows installation look the same as *nix (up to the point when you
> start R from Start button to have terminal version started instead of
> Rgui as it is now) and keep GUI candies separately for whoever
> wants/needs them. Sorry if that's been already done and I did not know
> about it.

>> In general this is a minor nuisance, but I needed to be able
>> to cross-build R in an environment where I only have
>> Cygwin-based cross-compilers, and there the path issues bit
>> me: I needed a version of R that accepted and returned
>> Cygwin-style paths. So I made the configure changes
>> necessary to build R under Cygwin, and had it running in 20 mins.
>>> We would like to be able to use linux machines on pc's but
>>> unfortunately we have restrictions imposed on us that
>> prevent this.
>>> This restriction also goes as far as the use of virtual
>> machines. My
>>> personal preference would be to run linux on my work pc, and use a
>>> virtual machine to run windows software, such as ArcGIS and
>> Imagine,
>>> that are not available for linux. This does not seem to be
>> an option for us.
>>> One thing I was interested in was knowing if there are
>> others who also
>>> would like a cygwin version. From the replies to my post,
>> and from a
>>> search of the mailing list archive, I think that there is little
>>> demand for this. We would, however, be prepared to help in
>> some way
>>> for the few people who are interested.
>> As I said earlier, it builds out of the box in R-devel (with
>> suitable options documented in the R-admin manual). No
>> guarantees that it will continue to do so unless tested in
>> the alpha/beta phase though. As no other platform we use
>> nowadays requires that shared objects/dynamic libraries have
>> all imports satisfied at build time, this is liable to get broken.
>> But I would encourage people to use Rterm.exe if it can be
>> made to do what you need.
>>> Robert Denham
>>> Environmental Statistician
>>> Remote Sensing Centre
>>> Telephone 07 3896 9899
>>> Department of Natural Resources & Water
>>> QScape Building, 80 Meiers Road, Indooroopilly Qld 4068
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: Prof Brian Ripley []
>>> Sent: Tuesday, 21 August 2007 9:53 PM
>>> To: Duncan Murdoch
>>> Cc: Denham Robert;
>>> Subject: Re: [Rd] compiling R under cygwin
>>> Yes,
>>>> What is the advantage of building this?
>>> was my question too. If you want a Unix-like version of R on PC
>>> hardware running Windows why not run a Unix-like OS under a virtual
>>> machine?
>>> Quite a lot of the details are wrong: using FLIBS,
>> BLAS_LIBS and LIBS as
>>> intended will solve most of the problems. I would use --disable-nls
>>> --disable-mbcs as you don't need them (and in particular you don't
>>> benefit from MBCS support on Windows unless you are in a
>> CJK locale).
>>> Note that 2.5.1 is released and there is unlikely to be a
>> 2.5.2, so any
>>> changes would be made only to R-devel. It there is a
>> convincing case to
>>> tailor a build for Cygwin there we can probably do so
>> rather easily, but
>>> the need for ongoing support would be a worry.
>>> (If platforms are not used and in particular not tested in the
>>> alpha/beta testing phases then the ability to build on them crumbles
>>> away. We seems to be down to regular testers on Linux,
>> Windows, MacOS
>>> X, Solaris and FreeBSD, with some help on AIX after a patch
>> with none.)
>>> On Tue, 21 Aug 2007, Duncan Murdoch wrote:
>>>> Denham Robert wrote:
>>>>> For various reasons,
>>> I think it is only courteous to mention some good reasons
>> if you want to
>>> take up people's time.
>>>>> it suits our workplace to have a cygwin version of R. I am pretty
>>>>> sure that cygwin is still not a supported environment for
>> R, but we
>>>>> have managed to compile R-2.5.1 under cygwin without too
>> many dramas.
>>>>> Our procedure is described below. We still have a few problems
>>>>> compiling libraries without manually changing files from
>> .so to .dll,
>>>>> but it seems ok.
>>>> I would expect other subtle problems as well, because
>> Cygwin is not a
>>>> normal Unix. I don't know whether any of these
>> differences matter to
>>>> R, but some things to look out for are:
>>>> - you can't unlink a file while it is open
>>>> - filenames are not case sensitive
>>>> - file permissions have strange defaults (everything is executable)
>>>> - I think the executable format still needs to be Windows format
>>>> - There's no such thing as a ptty
>>>> - You'll probably need X11 for graphics, and will lose support for
>>>> Windows metafile output (wmf)
>>>>> I was wondering whether this information is likely to be useful to
>>>>> others, and if we should spend any time looking in to
>> ways in which
>>>>> the configure/build/install code could be modified to allow a
>>>>> standard install.
>>>> What is the advantage of building this? I don't think we want to
>>>> support platforms just for the sake of supporting more
>> platforms, but
>>>> if there's a real need for it, that would be different.
>>>> Duncan Murdoch
>>>>> Notes on building R under cygwin:
>>>>> export FFLAGS=-O3
>>>>> export CFLAGS=-O3
>>>>> export CXXFLAGS=-O3
>>>>> export OBJCFLAGS=-O3
>>>>> export FCFLAGS=-O3
>>>>> export LDFLAGS='-lblas -lg2c -lintl'
>>>>> export R_OSTYPE=unix
>>>>> ./configure --prefix=/opt/freeware/R/R-2.5.1 \
>>>>> --with-tcl-config=/usr/lib/ \
>>>>> --with-tk-config=/usr/lib/ \ --with-blas=-lblas \
>>>>> --with-lapack=-llapack \ --enable-R-shlib
>>>>> comment out Win32 in src/include/config.h and set Unix to
>> 1, change
>>>>> .so to .dll. change .so to .dll and in Makeconf.
>>>>> in src/extra/xdr/rpc/types.h comment out defn of malloc.
>>>>> Change .so to .dll in Makefile's
>>>>> edit Makeconf and set R_OSTYPE to unix
>>>>> make -j2
>>>>> when blas doesn't link, re-run command with -lblas -lg2c
>> on end and
>>>>> change output to .dll
>>>>> edit Rstrptime.c and change wcstod to atof.
>>>>> in modules:
>>>>> when X11 and internet falls over add -lintl to link line.
>> add -lg2c
>>>>> and -lblas to lapack
>>>>> comment out library/base/R/library.R lines 47-51 to avoid
>> arch check
>>>>> which seems to go wrong!
>>>>> make -j2
>>>>> make install
>>>>> edit /opt/freeware/R/R-2.5.1/lib/R/etc/Makeconf and add '-lintl
>>>>> -lg2c -lblas' to the end of ALL_LIBS so the module building works.
>>>>> Change .so to .dll also (can't see how to to this for the build
>>>>> tho...)
>>>>> Our cygwin info is:
>>>>> sysname release version
>>>>> "CYGWIN_NT-5.1" "1.5.20s(0.155/4/2)" "20060527 19:21:22"
>>>>> Robert Denham
>>>>> Environmental Statistician
>>>>> Remote Sensing Centre
>>>>> Telephone 07 3896 9899
>>>>> <>
>>>>> Department of Natural Resources & Water QScape Building, 80 Meiers
>>>>> Road, Indooroopilly Qld 4068
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>> --
>> Brian D. Ripley,
>> Professor of Applied Statistics,
>> University of Oxford, Tel: +44 1865 272861 (self)
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