[Rd] R package compilation: files in src directory should be ignored if C library is not available

Cule, Erika erika.cule05 at imperial.ac.uk
Fri Aug 17 11:11:44 CEST 2012

I have written an R package which contains C source code (in the directory pkg/src). 

Only a subset of the functions in the pkg/R directory contain a .C() call to the functions in the pkg/src directory. The rest of the package will still work and be useful without the functions containing a .C() call.

To compile the code in pkg/src requires the GSL library. This is detailed in the SystemRequirements line of the DESCRIPTION file and the Makevars file directs the compiler to LIB_GSL.

At what stage will installation fail for the end user if they don't have GSL installed? 

I have used Autoconf and configure, following the example in 1.2 of "Writing R Extensions" and the configure.ac file in the R package gsl, to detect whether the GSL library is installed on the computer and disable the R functions if the GSL library is not found (by using a TRUE/FALSE pattern substitution, as in the example in "Writing R Extensions"). If GSL is not available, will the package now install on another users machine with these functions disabled? Or upon installation will the installer try to install the code in pkg/src and fail because the libraries are not available?

Is there a practical way to test this? Both of the computers I have access to have GSL available, and installation works whether I set HAVE_GSL=TRUE or HAVE_GSL=FALSE (although in the latter case the corresponding R functions are disabled). 

I hope that this is clear, and am happy to post my code if it would be useful.

Many thanks in advance.



Erika Cule
PhD student in Statistical Genetics
Imperial College London
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health
erika.cule05 at imperial.ac.uk

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