Re: Windows versus Unix packages in CRAN (Was Re: [R] Rmetrics)

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From: Prof Brian Ripley (
Date: Wed 19 May 2004 - 05:36:38 EST

Message-id: <Pine.LNX.4.44.0405182016110.23888-100000@gannet.stats>

Note that Rmetrics is not on CRAN, so you have a false premise.

As far as I know only one CRAN package runs only on Windows, mimR, because
mim only runs on Windows. All the others run on some (suitably equipped)
Linux system.

Quite a few CRAN packages do not compile out of the box on Windows, and I
provide binaries for a few that need special attention. A few more (e.g.
RMySQL) really do need to be compiled against compatible versions of R and
something else (and David James does a sterling job tracking those). I am
not aware of any that with enough effort could not be made to work under
Windows, but I have not in all cases made the effort (I did for a few
years ...).

On Wed, 19 May 2004, Ajay Shah wrote:

> > Rmetrics - New Version is available for R 1.9 !!

There is no such thing as R 1.9, of course.

> > in R-binary and R-source form from the site "",
> > and install the binary "zip" files in the usual way via the menu
> I'm confused - does the fact that you are only distributing ".zip"
> files means that (shudder) I need Microsoft Windows in order to run
> this? (I hunted on the website but you seemed to only have .zip
> files. That's very odd; normally on Unix we don't ship .zip files).

I was not aware that _you_ distributed any R packages -- could you give us
the details, please? Shipping .zip files for sources is not uncommon in
Open Source projects.

> More generally: Do all R packages automatically run on Unix, or are we
> fragmenting the CRAN code base into Unix and non-Unix packages? One of
> my reasons for shifting to R was that it felt like a system that was
> built by Unix people (roots in Bell Labs etc.). So it will have a
> function like sink() as a nice counterpart to a function like source()
> :-)
> Ox, for example, has nice functionality but it felt like it was done
> by Windows guys, so it wasn't going to be useful to me, and I kept
> away.
> If R packages are actually in two (intersecting) sets : those that run
> on Unix and those that run on Windows, then do we need a CRAN/Unix and
> CRAN/M$ directories to distinguish them? It will avoid a lot of wasted
> time... e.g. I blew half an hour on investigating Rmetrics before
> deciding they're a Windows crowd.

`Category error' as a biologist friend of mine says.

I think you are off target here, for I did

mkdir fBasics
unzip -d fBasics
rm fBasics/src/*.o
R CMD check fBasics

and that took me about 3 minutes. It would of course be nice if the
developers had done

R CMD check fBasics
and sorted out the errors, then
R CMD build fBasics

but those errors are equally problematic on Unix or Windows.

Brian D. Ripley,        
Professor of Applied Statistics,
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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