[Rd] unrelated software install triggering an error from R's install script on Mac OS X 10.5

Simon Urbanek simon.urbanek at r-project.org
Mon Dec 1 02:21:32 CET 2008

On Dec 1, 2008, at 6:11 AM, Laurent Gautier wrote:

> Stefan Evert wrote:
>>> The steps needed to generate the error are:
>>> - install a binary distribution of R (default location)
>>> - add R to the PATH
>> Did you actually add
>>    /Library/Frameworks/R.framework/Resources/bin/
>> to your PATH?  You're not supposed to do that!  What made you think  
>> so?
> Coming from an UNIX background, adding a directory like bin/ to the  
> PATH   does not appear unreasonable.

... if you really want those files to prepend your PATH. You get what  
you deserve ;) I this case you don't want that and this is true for  
all unix platforms.

>> This directory contains a range of support scripts for R which are  
>> not intended for direct use from the command line or other  
>> programs.  In my installation, there's just a symlink from /usr/bin/ 
>> R to the R binary in the directory above, which AFAIK is the only  
>> program you need to invoke directly.
> I am relatively new to OS X, so I cannot tell whether this is an R  
> specificity, or the way things are usually done on OS X are somewhat  
> very different from the UNIX way.

Then you seem to be very unfamiliar with the unix way as it appears...

> I am surprised by this cherry pick one executable in bin/ / don't  
> touch the PATH.

You are apparently unaware of the way R is setup ... Note that on most  
unix systems this is exactly what you get - the R_HOME/bin directory  
is tucked away in /usr/local/lib/R/bin which is never on your PATH  
since R installs the user-visible scripts to /usr/local/bin. The same  
happens here.

>> In your case, R's "INSTALL" script, which implements the "R CMD  
>> INSTALL" functionality masks the standard "install" program in /usr/ 
>> bin/install, so Python's installer now picks up a completely wrong  
>> program.  Even if you edit R's "INSTALL" script, it'll do something  
>> entirely different from what you expect.
> To my great dismay I am hearing here that Mac OS X is not case- 
> sensitive.

Mac OS X is case-sensitive. Case-sensitivity is an option of the  
mounted file system and you can choose either. It is common to use  
case-insensitive fs for historical reasons (compatibility with older  
software), but you don't have to.

>> BTW, putting the R binary directory ahead of system directories  
>> such as /usr/bin in your PATH is an even worse idea than including  
>> it there in the first place. ;-)
> I am used to the fact that adding a bin/ directory in the PATH (and  
> *ahead* of all other components in the PATH) is the way to add  
> custom binaries.

If you want to override the system ones, yes. But you better know what  
you're doing ;).

> I cannot exclude that I am missing some specificities of Mac OS X,  
> but that idea seems to be at least shared by the fink project (their  
> default install puts /sw/bin ahead of all the rest).

.. which leads to quite a few problems on its own. That's why you're  
entirely on your own if you do so (and likely to run into problems  
where Fink replaces systems parts with non-standard binaries).

> I suppose that there is a documentation for R-on-OS-X and that I  
> overlooked it.

You overlooked quite a bit of documentation of unix and R - pretty  
much none of it is OS X - specific.


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