[Rd] compiling R under cygwin

Gabor Grothendieck ggrothendieck at gmail.com
Tue Aug 21 17:52:41 CEST 2007

On 8/21/07, M. Edward (Ed) Borasky <znmeb at cesmail.net> wrote:
> Prof Brian Ripley wrote:
> > Yes,
> >
> >> What is the advantage of building this?
> >
> > was my question too.  If you want a Unix-like version of R on PC hardware
> > running Windows why not run a Unix-like OS under a virtual machine?
> >
> > Quite a lot of the details are wrong: using FLIBS, BLAS_LIBS and LIBS as
> > intended will solve most of the problems.  I would use --disable-nls
> > --disable-mbcs as you don't need them (and in particular you don't benefit
> > from MBCS support on Windows unless you are in a CJK locale).
> >
> > Note that 2.5.1 is released and there is unlikely to be a 2.5.2, so any
> > changes would be made only to R-devel.  It there is a convincing case to
> > tailor a build for Cygwin there we can probably do so rather easily, but
> > the need for ongoing support would be a worry.
> >
> > (If platforms are not used and in particular not tested in the alpha/beta
> > testing phases then the ability to build on them crumbles away.  We seems
> > to be down to regular testers on Linux, Windows, MacOS X, Solaris and
> > FreeBSD, with some help on AIX after a patch with none.)
> I too have a workplace where Windows is the "official" IT-supported OS,
> and in some cases open-source tools do not have a native Windows port,
> thus needing Cygwin, or as you suggest, an embedded VMware Linux
> workstation. I run Cygwin and a Gentoo Linux VMware guest on my Windows
> machine. Having said that:
> 1. I consider the Windows version of R to have a *superior* user
> interface to the Linux version. The only place where it falls down in my
> opinion is the semi-difficult nature of building contributed packages
> that require C or C++ or Fortran compilation.
> 2. I know of few other open source communities that prefer a Cygwin
> version to a native Windows version if the native version exists. Most
> of them go further -- for example, the Ruby Windows people flat-out
> deprecate the Cygwin Ruby port, even though it is slightly faster than
> the native one and even though some C-language extensions won't build
> except on the Cygwin version!
> In short, Cygwin is a crutch IMHO, and an embedded Linux VMware guest
> isn't much better. I'm hoping to phase Cygwin out by the end of the
> year. I think if you need Linux, you should run Linux. That's going to
> require some patience and extreme people skills when you deal with your
> IT department, but it can be done. But on Windows boxes, you're much
> better off using only tools built for and tested on native Windows.

Besides Cygwin and VMware there is also the coLinux kernel which is
a native Linux kernel that runs on Windows.  I have run R with the AndLinux
distro based on Ubuntu/coLinux/Xming on top of Windows with some success.
It has the advantage that it runs much faster than virtual machine solutions
(such as VMware) and it does not require special versions of R -- you can just
use the normal Ubuntu version of R.  AndLinux is being developed (they are
still working on the installer) but its basically usable already and they claim
there are already 30,000 users.

On the downside you have to start it up after starting up Windows and that
takes some time and the installer is not finished so you have to use batch
files to start it.   There may be some other problems associated with its
immaturity as well.  See:

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