Re: [R] Linux Distribution Choice

From: Roger Bivand <>
Date: Mon 20 Feb 2006 - 04:06:48 EST

On Sun, 19 Feb 2006, Graham Smith wrote:

> I am making some tentative steps into using Linux (Mandriva at the moment)
> and notice that not all the Linux binaries on CRAN are the latest release.
> As R (plus Grass) will be key programs for me on Linux, is there a preferred
> Linux distribution that people in the R communiuty use?

There are a fair number of distributions out there, and often users find that even though they have installed an R binary, they cannot successfully install R contributed packages because their build train is incomplete, and/or they lack development components. Building R from source on modern Linux distributions is not difficult, and will let you check whether you can install R contributed packages with C, C++, or Fortran source code. Essentially the same concerns apply to GRASS, and particularly to the software GRASS depends on, crucially GDAL/OGR.

While learning to install from source may seem challenging, it is worth doing especially when you would like to work using several linked applications. The R-GRASS interface is developed on RHEL4, I believe a lead GRASS developer also uses RHEL, but others use Mandriva and many more Debian, Ubuntu, and so on. If you'd like a taster, Quantian ( has GRASS 6.0.1, GDAL 1.2.6, and r-base 2.2.0 (none the latest releases, but perhaps enough to try out).

If in doubt about a distribution, consider what support resources are close to you. "" isn't very informative, but many organisationa and universities do have Linux policies, and choosing a distribution that maximises the chances to being able to talk to someone using the same distribution is sensible, even if it isn't the one you though of first. Chapter 2 of is helpful reading if you decide to install from source.

> Many thanks,
> Graham
> [[alternative HTML version deleted]]
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Roger Bivand
Economic Geography Section, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of
Economics and Business Administration, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen,
Norway. voice: +47 55 95 93 55; fax +47 55 95 95 43

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Received on Mon Feb 20 04:11:02 2006

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