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This document concerns building and installing R from sources.
Pre-made binaries are made available for some systems with varying
regularity and can be obtained from CRAN (see the RESOURCES file).
R will configure and build under a number of common Unix platforms
including dec-alpha-osf, freebsd, hpux, linux-elf, sgi-irix, solaris,
and sunos. In general it is relatively easy to adapt R to new
platforms. See below for details.
The simplest way is to download the most recent R-x.yy.z.tgz package,
and unpack them with
tar xvfz R-x.yy.z.tgz
on systems that have GNU tar installed. On other systems you need at
least to have the "gzip" program installed. Then you can do
gzip -dc | tar xvf -
If you need to transport the sources on floppy disks, you can download the
R-x.yy.z.tgz-split.* files. and paste them together at the destination
cat R-x.yy.z.tgz-split.* > R-x.yy.z.tgz
and proceed as above.
Finally, for minor-minor releases (x.yy.z with z != 0), a patch
against the preceding release is made available in
R-x.yy.{z-1}-x.yy.z.diff.gz (e.g. R-0.63.2-0.63.3.diff.gz), which is
generally a much shorter file that the .tgz files. Such a file can be
applied to the sources of the previous version by changing to the top
directory of it and
gzip -dc /path/to/it/R-x.yy.{z-1}-x.yy.z.diff.gz | patch -E -p1
Notice that this does not necessarily work if the older sources have
been modified (e.g. by building in their directories).
Choose a place to install the R tree (R is not just a binary, but has
additional data sets, help files, font metrics etc). Let's call this
place RHOME. Untar the source code. This should create directories
src, etc, cmd, help and doc. Issue the following commands:
If these commands execute successfully, the R binary will be copied to
the `$RHOME/bin' directory. In addition, a shell script font-end
called "R" will be created and copied to the same directory. You can
copy this script to a place where users can invoke it, for example to
`/usr/local/bin/R'. You could also copy the man page `R.1' to a place
where your man reader finds it, such as `/usr/local/man/man1'. If you
want to install the complete R tree to, e.g., /usr/local/lib/R, see
section INSTALLATION below.
You do not necessarily have to build R in the top-level source
directory (say, TOP_SRCDIR). To build in BUILDDIR, cd there and run
and so on, as described further below. This has the advantage of always
keeping your source tree `clean'.
If you need or want to set certain configure variables to something
other than their default, you can do that by either editing the file
`' or on the command line as
VAR="..." ./configure # Bourne shell compatibles
(setenv VAR "..."; ./configure) # C shell
One common variable to change is R_PAPERSIZE, which defaults to a4, not
If you have libraries and header files, e.g. for GNU readline, in
non-system directories, use the variables LIBS (for libraries) and
CPPFLAGS (for header files), respectively, to specify these locations.
Make will also build plain text help pages as well as HTML and LaTeX
versions of the documentation (the three kinds can also be generated
separately using make help, make html and make latex). Note that as
of R version 0.60, you need Perl version 5 to build the documentation.
If this is not available on your system, you can obtain precompiled
documentation files via the `doc/pre-formatted-help' directory of the
Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN), see the file `RESOURCES' for
information on CRAN.
Now rehash if necessary, type `R' and reach for your S manuals ...
And, read the R FAQ (
have been completed successfully, you can install the complete R tree
to your system by typing
make install
This will install to the following directories:
$prefix/bin (some) executables
$prefix/man/man1 man pages
$prefix/lib/R all the rest (libraries, online help
system, ...)
where prefix is determined during configuration (typically /usr/local)
and can be set by running configure with the option
./configure --prefix=/where/you/want/R/to/go
Then the R executable will be installed in /where/you/want/R/to/go/bin,
and so on. The prefix of the installation directories can also be seen
in the status message that is displayed at the end of configure.
To compile R, you currently most likely need GNU make. (To be more
precise, you need a version of make which accepts shell wildcards in
dependencies.) On Solaris 2.6 in particular, you need a version of
GNU make different from 3.77 (the current one); 3.76.1 works fine.
To compile R, you need a FORTRAN compiler or f2c, the FORTRAN-to-C
converter. The default is to search for f77, g77, fort77, f90, xlf,
cf77, and fc (in that order), and then for f2c, and use whichever is
found first; if none is found, R cannot be compiled. The search
mechanism can be changed using the `--with-g77', `--with-f77', and
`--with-f2c' command line options to configure. If your FORTRAN
compiler is in a non-standard location, you should set the enviroment
variable PATH accordingly before running configure.
If your FORTRAN libraries are in slightly peculiar places, you should
also look at LD_LIBRARY_PATH to make sure that all libraries are on this
NEW PLATFORMS (Standards Hah!)
There are a number of sources of problems when installing R on a new
hardware/os platform.
1. Floating Point Arithmetic: R supports the POSIX, SVID and IEEE
models for floating point arithmetic. The POSIX and SVID models
provide no problems. The IEEE model however can be a pain. The
problem is that there is no agreement on how to set the signalling
behavior; sgi/irix and linux require no special action, freebsd
requires a call to (the macro) fpsetmask(0) and osf1v3.2 requires
that computation be done with a -ieee_with_inexact flag etc...
On a new platform you must find out the magic recipe and add some
code to make it work. This can often be done via the file which resides in the top level directory.
2. Shared Libraries: There seems to be very little agreement across
platforms on what needs to be done to build shared libraries.
there are many different combinations of flags for the compilers
and loaders. The technique we use is to interrogate the X window
system about what it does (using xmkmf). This often works, but
you may have to manually override the results. Scanning the cc(1)
and ld(1) manual entries usually reveals the correct incantation.
Once you know the recipe you can modify the file
(following the instructions therein) so that the build will use
these options.
If you do manage to get R running on a new platform please let us know
about it so we can modify the configuration procedures to include that
If you are having trouble getting R to work on your platform please
feel free to get in touch to ask questions. We've had a fair amount
of practice at porting R to new platforms...
R Core Members
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