Re: [R] Current state of support for BUGS access for Linux users?

From: Uwe Ligges <>
Date: Tue 17 Jan 2006 - 18:50:05 EST

Paul Johnson wrote:
> Greetings:
> I'm going to encourage some students to try Bayesian ideas for
> hierarchical models.
> I want to run the WinBUGS and R examples in Tony Lancaster's An
> Introduction to Modern Bayesian Econometrics. That features MS
> Windows and "bugs" from R2WinBUGS.
> Today, I want to ask how people are doing this in Linux? I have found
> a plethora of possibilities, some of which are not quite ready, some
> of which work only under MS Windows. Right now I just want to know
> "what actually works".
> Here's where I stand now in Fedora Core 4 Linux.
> 1. OpenBUGS-2.1.1 runs in Linux. I can run "linbugs" (the console
> version similar to the old BUGS) and also I can run--under wine--the
> newest version of "winbugs.exe" that is circulated with OpenBUGS. As
> far as I can tell, the graphical interface in wine/winbugs works in
> almost all elements. A few things seem not quite right in the GUI
> (can't initialize more than one chain, difficult to specify variables
> for monitoring), but it does work.
> It is easier to install and work with OpenBUGS's version of
> winbugs.exe than with Winbugs-1.4 because the Open version does not
> have that annoying license registration and "winbugs.exe" is not
> wrapped inside an installation script. I'm a little confused about
> WinBUGS versions because the BRugs documents
> refer to WinBUGS-1.5, which refers to
>, which
> can be downloaded without any of the registration steps, but WinBUGS15
> is not mentioned in the WinBUGS site (where 1.4.1 appears to be the
> newest).
> Supposing I get the winbugs.exe question settled:
> 2. How to most dependably send jobs from R to "linbugs" or "winbugs.exe"?
> The BRugs package is preferred?
> For a long time, R2WinBUGS was Windows-only, but toward the end of
> last fall I noticed that R2WinBUGS now does compile and install under
> R in Linux.
> however, its help still says:
> SystemRequirements: WinBUGS 1.4 on Windows
> I'd appreciate any advice.

[resend to less recipients in order to save Martin's spare time to approve message;
CCing Andrew Thomas, Bob O'Hara and Sibylle Sturtz separately]

WinBUGS-1.5 never got really released, AFAIK - Andrew or Bob might want to correct me. It has been renamed to OpenBUGS. The current version is the GPL'ed OpenBUGS 2.1.1 available from

Re R packages:
- R2WinBUGS is compatible with WinBUGS-1.4.x only, its newest version can speak with WinBUGS under wine thanks to user contributions. But it still depends on WinBUGS-1.4.x, hence Windows only (considering wine as Windows).
- BRugs contains the BRugs interface, R functions and the whole OpenBUGS installation. Unfortunately, due to serious compiler problems, we were not able to get a Linux version running using the interface. Hence it was not possible to release any non-Windows version up to now. I haven't tested BRugs under wine yet (in which case R has to run under wine as well, of course) ... and I do not know if there are any serious performance penalties.
Note that even in the long term, OpenBUGS will only run on x86 based platforms.

Due to the much more flexibile interface, I prefer BRugs.

BTW: "Real programmers" won't consider R2WinBUGS to be an "interface" at all - it might be useful, though. ;-)

Uwe Ligges

> --
> Paul E. Johnson
> Professor, Political Science
> 1541 Lilac Lane, Room 504
> University of Kansas
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