[Rd] [RFC] A case for freezing CRAN

Spencer Graves spencer.graves at structuremonitoring.com
Wed Mar 19 19:36:10 CET 2014

       What about having this purpose met with something like an 
expansion of R-Forge?  We could have packages submitted to R-Forge 
rather than CRAN, and people who wanted the latest could get it from 
R-Forge.  If changes I make on R-Forge break a reverse dependency, 
emails explaining the problem are sent to both me and the maintainer for 
the package I broke.

       The budget for R-Forge would almost certainly need to be 
increased:  They currently disable many of the tests they once ran.

       Regarding budget, the R Project would get more donations if they 
asked for them and made it easier to contribute.  I've tried multiple 
times without success to find a way to donate.  I didn't try hard, but 
it shouldn't be hard ;-)  (And donations should be accepted in US 
dollars and Euros -- and maybe other currencies.) There should be a 
procedure whereby anyone could receive a pro forma invoice, which they 
can pay or ignore as they choose.  I mention this, because many grants 
could cover a reasonable fee provided they have an invoice.

       Spencer Graves

On 3/19/2014 10:59 AM, Jeroen Ooms wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 5:52 AM, Duncan Murdoch <murdoch.duncan at gmail.com>wrote:
>> I don't see why CRAN needs to be involved in this effort at all.  A third
>> party could take snapshots of CRAN at R release dates, and make those
>> available to package users in a separate repository.  It is not hard to set
>> a different repository than CRAN as the default location from which to
>> obtain packages.
> I am happy to see many people giving this some thought and engage in the
> discussion.
> Several have suggested that staging & freezing can be simply done by a
> third party. This solution and its limitations is also described in the
> paper [1] in the section titled "R: downstream staging and repackaging".
> If this would solve the problem without affecting CRAN, we would have been
> done this obviously. In fact, as described in the paper and pointed out by
> some people, initiatives such as Debian or Revolution Enterprise already
> include a frozen library of R packages. Also companies like Google maintain
> their own internal repository with packages that are used throughout the
> company.
> The problem with this approach is that when you using some 3rd party
> package snapshot, your r/sweave scripts will still only be
> reliable/reproducible for other users of that specific snapshot. E.g. for
> the examples above, a script that is written in R 3.0 by a Debian user is
> not guaranteed to work on R 3.0 in Google, or R 3.0 on some other 3rd party
> cran snapshot. Hence this solution merely redefines the problem from "this
> script depends on pkgA 1.1 and pkgB 0.2.3" to "this script depends on
> repository foo 2.0". And given that most users would still be pulling
> packages straight from CRAN, it would still be terribly difficult to
> reproduce a 5 year old sweave script from e.g. JSS.
> For this reason I believe the only effective place to organize this staging
> is all the way upstream, on CRAN. Imagine a world where your r/sweave
> script would be reliable/reproducible, out of the box, on any system, any
> platform in any company using on R 3.0. No need to investigate which
> specific packages or cran snapshot the author was using at the time of
> writing the script, and trying to reconstruct such libraries for each
> script you want to reproduce. No ambiguity about which package versions are
> used by R 3.0. However for better or worse, I think this could only be
> accomplished with a cran release cycle (i.e. "universal snapshots")
> accompanying the already existing r releases.
>> The only objection I can see to this is that it requires extra work by the
>> third party, rather than extra work by the CRAN team. I don't think the
>> total amount of work required is much different.  I'm very unsympathetic to
>> proposals to dump work on others.
> I am merely trying to discuss a technical issue in an attempt to improve
> reliability of our software and reproducibility of papers created with R.
> 	[[alternative HTML version deleted]]
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