[Rd] update.packages with ask = FALSE will sometimes ask about updates

Richard Cotton richierocks at gmail.com
Wed Feb 11 11:46:47 CET 2015

Today while running update.packages(ask = FALSE), R stopped to ask me
a question:

  There are binary versions available but the source versions are later:
            binary  source needs_compilation
KernSmooth 2.23-13 2.23-14              TRUE
mixture        1.2     1.3              TRUE

Do you want to install from sources the packages which need compilation?

update.packages calls install.packages which calls getDependencies,
which was where there question originated.

It seems to me that if I've set ask = FALSE, stopping to ask questions
is a bug.  There are a few possible interpretations of the best
behaviour though, so I thought I'd put it up for discussion here
before (maybe) submitting as a bug.

1. The existing behaviour is correct: the case of out-of-date binaries
causes a special situation, and R is right to ask.

2. ask = FALSE means I want all updates, so don't ask me any
questions, just install all possible updates.

3. ask = FALSE means that I don't want any interactivity, but
out-of-date binaries is a special case, so R should just fail to
update these packages, with an error message stating that they need to
be manually updated.

4. There should be an extra argument that decides between the some or
all of the behaviours described in 1, 2 and 3.

Which of these options is best?  (Or have I missed an option?)

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