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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-like
platforms (including i386-freebsd, i386-linux, ppc-linux,
mips-sgi-irix, alpha-linux, alpha-dec-osf4, rs6000-ibm-aix,
hppa-hp-hpux, sparc-linux, and sparc-sun-solaris) and on Windows
9x/NT/2000 (see `src/gnuwin32/INSTALL'). In general it is relatively
easy to adapt R to new platforms. See the section on new platforms
for details.
The simplest way is to download the most recent R-x.y.z.tgz package, and
unpack them with
tar xvfz R-x.y.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 use
gzip -dc R-x.y.z.tgz | tar xvf -
If you need to transport the sources on floppy disks, you can download
the R-x.y.z.tgz-split.* files and paste them together at the destination
cat R-x.y.z.tgz-split.* > R-x.y.z.tgz
and proceed as above.
Finally, for minor-minor releases (x.y.z with z != 0), a patch against
the preceding release is made available in R-x.y.{z-1}-x.y.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.y.{z-1}-x.y.z.diff.gz | patch -E -p1
Beware 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 R_HOME. Untar the source code. This should create directories
src, doc, and several more. Issue the following commands:
(See USING MAKE below if your make is not called `make'.)
If these commands execute successfully, the R binary will be copied to
the `${R_HOME}/bin' directory. In addition, a shell script front-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'. (You may need GNU make to allow
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.
If you find you need to alter configure variables, it is worth noting
that some settings are cached in the file `config.cache', and it is a
good idea to remove that file before re-configuring.
Make will also build plain text help pages as well as HTML and LaTeX
versions of the R object documentation (the three kinds can also be
generated separately using make help, make html and make latex). Note
that you need Perl version 5, available via,
to build this documentation. If this is not available on your system,
you can obtain PDF versions of the documentation files via the
Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN), see the file `RESOURCES' for
information on CRAN.
Now rehash if necessary, type `R', and read the R manuals and the R FAQ
(files FAQ or doc/html/faq.html or the latest version at
The GNOME interface for R will only be built if you specify it: see the
GNOME section below.
There is a set of manuals that can be built from the sources,
refman Printed versions of all the help pages.
R-intro `An Introduction to R'.
R-exts `Writing R Extensions'.
R-FAQ R FAQ (which is already built for you).
To make these, cd to the `doc/manual' directory and use
make dvi to create DVI versions
make pdf to create PDF versions
make info to create info files (not refman)
You will not be able to build the info files unless you have makeinfo
version 4 or later installed (and most Linux distributions have 3.2).
The dvi versions can be previewed and printed using standard programs
such as `xdvi' and `dvips'. The PDF versions can be viewed using
Acrobat Reader or (recent versions of) ghostscript: they have
hyperlinks that can be followed in Acrobat Reader. The info files are
suitable for reading online with Emacs or the standalone GNU Info.
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 the front-end shell script
${prefix}/man/man1 the man page
${prefix}/lib/R all the rest (libraries, on-line 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
This installs the R executable to `/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. You can
install into another directory by using
make prefix=/path/to/here install
To install dvi, info and PDF versions of the manuals, use `make
install-dvi', `make install-info' and `make install-pdf', respectively.
To compile R, you will most likely find it easiest to use GNU make.
On Solaris 2.6/7 in particular, you need a version of GNU make
different from 3.77; 3.78.x and 3.76.1 work fine, as does the Sun
To build in a separate directory you need a make that uses the VPATH
variable, for example GNU make.
If you want to use a make by another name, for example if your GNU make
is called `gmake', you need to set MAKE at configure time, for example
MAKE=gmake ./configure (sh, bash)
env MAKE=gmake ./configure (csh)
To compile R, you need a FORTRAN compiler or f2c, the FORTRAN-to-C
converter. The default is to search for g77, fort77, f77, 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
You must set whatever compilation flags (if any) are needed to ensure
that FORTRAN `integer' is equivalent to a C int pointer and FORTRAN
`double precision' is equivalent to a C double pointer. This is checked
during the configuration process.
This interface is experimental and currently incomplete. For more
information on the GNOME interface and upcoming features, see
The GNOME interface for R will only be built if you specify it by
running configure with the --with-gnome option. For example, you might
./configure --with-gnome
but please check you have all the requirements first. It is advisable
to have reasonably-up-to-date versions of the gnome and gtk+ libraries
(later than those in RedHat 6.0, for example). You can find the
versions you have by
gnome-config --version
gtk-config --version
We know 1.0.10 and 1.2.3 suffice. Updates are available, for example
from or for
RPM-based systems. You need the following RPMs and their dependencies
You will need also libglade 0.5 or later for correct behaviour. For
more information on libglade and to download the source, see The sources are also available
from the GNOME ftp site ( and mirrors). RPMs are in RedHat
6.1 and are available from
libglade needs libxml 1.4 or later, the source for which is available
from the GNOME ftp site ( and mirrors). RPMs of libxml-1.4
and libxml-devel-1.4 are available from and mirrors,
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 i386 linux require no special action, freebsd
requires a call to (the macro) fpsetmask(0) and osf1 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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