[R] ASUS Eee R cookbook

From: Jim Lemon <jim_at_bitwrit.com.au>
Date: Sat, 29 Dec 2007 21:47:19 +1100


Hi all,
Having seen a few messages regarding the ASUS Eee PC (p701) and R, and then buying one and trying to get R installed on it, I thought there might be a few people on the list who would appreciate a cookbook on how to do it. It's a nice little piece of machinery, running Xandros 4 Linux (seems to be compatible with Debian Etch) and set up for the person who wants to do all those Webby things plus maybe a bit of office type work. All that works right out of the box. However, getting R going took me a few tries.

First get your Eee an internet connection. This was embarrassingly easy for me, I just plugged it into the D-Link router, clicked the LAN option and in a few seconds I was online. It also has wireless and even yer old bleep-buzz modem options.

You may be able to run R on the Easy Desktop, but I went straight to the Full Desktop (KDE). There is an excellent description of how to download the necessary files and enable KDE at:

http://wiki.eeeuser.com/howto:getkde

This gives you what most people who use Linux are used to (you can apparently enable GNOME, too). Now for the fun. I wasn't able to compile R from source as gcc wouldn't go. I'll let you know if I get it working.

As in setting up KDE, you have to add a repository.

1a. Applications|System|Synaptic Package Manager

OR

1b. Start a console, su to root and enter "synaptic"

2. Alt-S (Settings) | R (Repositories)

3. Alt-N (New)

4. Enter the URI of the repository, the distribution and the section(s)

This is where I ran afoul of the Debian voodoo. You don't actually enter the URI, just the bit before "dists" (I think). Then you enter the distribution (etch) and then "main". After many tries, my entry looks like this:

URI: ftp://ftp.au.debian.org/debian/
Distribution: etch
Section(s): main

while the actual URI is:

ftp://ftp.au.debian.org/debian/dists/etch/Contents-i386.gz

Maybe there is a better way. I'm happy to be corrected. The package listing will then download. When complete:

5. Scroll down to the "r-base" package, right click and select "Mark for Installation".

6. Click "Apply" near the top of the window.

7. Confirm in the dialog that appears and it should all happen.

At this point, I went off for lunch, as it looked like taking half an hour or so. The power pack on the Eee has those annoying half-shielded prongs and it had come loose at some point. When I returned, the Eee had shut down. Every time I powered it up, it would shut down again. I reverted to the factory settings using F9 on bootup (thereby losing all my upgrades) and it still kept shutting down, faster each time. I finally worked out that the battery had gone critically flat, recharged it, went through the whole process again and it works fine.

One thing that helps a lot is to resize the graphics window as the screen is kind of small. I tried:

x11(width=5,height=5)

and it didn't quite work, but then something I did (hit the wrong key? unintentionally clicked on something?) worked and it seemed to remember whatever I had done. Now my plots fit on the screen.

I have installed a few source packages, but until I get gcc to go, I will have to use synaptic to install anything that requires compilation. If I have made any gross mistakes or any of this doesn't appear to work, please let me know. I think it's absolutely fantastic to have R running on something that I can stick in a large pocket.

Jim



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