[Rd] Bug: Issues on Windows with SFN disabled

Kevin Ushey kevinushey at gmail.com
Fri Dec 8 17:52:23 CET 2017

For what it's worth, the Windows installers for other programming
language runtimes often install outside of Program Files, so at least
there is 'prior art' to motivate having R install directly into the
root of the home drive:

    - ActiveState Perl installs directly C:/Perl;
    - Python installs (when installing for all users) into C:/Python$VERSION;
    - The Ruby installers at https://rubyinstaller.org/ default to the
root home drive.

So I (as Dirk said earlier) would also be in favor of having R install
directly to the root of the home drive, with e.g. C:/R/R-x.y.z being
the default install location.


On Fri, Dec 8, 2017 at 4:14 AM, Tomas Kalibera <tomas.kalibera at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 12/07/2017 06:15 PM, Dirk Eddelbuettel wrote:
>> On 7 December 2017 at 17:56, Tomas Kalibera wrote:
>> |
>> | An update on this. Writing R Extensions does not recommend to have a
>> | space character in R_HOME. This means that on Windows one either should
>> | have SFN enabled (which is still the common case), or install into a
>> | directory that does not have a space in its name (so specifically not
>> | into "Program Files"). This recommendation unfortunately needs to stay
>> | for now.
>> |
>> | WRE recommends that Makefiles are written to be robust against space
>> | characters inside R_HOME. All path names passed from a Makefile to the
>> | shell should be quoted at least if they include R_HOME. Make "include"
>> | directives should not be used on path names that are derived from
>> | R_HOME, but one should instead use the "-f" option multiple times when
>> | recursively invoking make. Maintainers of packages that use "include"
>> | with R_HOME have been notified. Unfortunately, the number of packages
>> | that do not quote pathnames with R_HOME in Makefiles is rather large, so
>> | fixing will take some time.
>> |
>> | Currently, R-devel should build fine on Windows with R_HOME including
>> | space, including all base and recommended packages, and tests for these
>> | packages should pass even though this is not regularly tested. If you
>> | find a case when this does not work, please submit a bug report.
>> Why does the Windows installer default to using a directory with spaces?
> It's a convention on Windows and I guess there may be problems with permissions on other directories. My hope is we can make R work reliably without SFN just in time before SFN become disabled by default, after all, quoting pathnames in Makefiles (or shell scripts for that matter) is a good practice anyway and avoiding "include" is not a big problem as very few packages are affected.
> But thanks for opening this and I am happy for insights from any Windows experts on the issue. I would not want to violate the convention for all users when just few of them have SFN disabled, and as I hope this will be fixed on R/packages side, but maybe the installer could at least detect the problem (when "Program Files" or another specified target directory did not have a short name). Or perhaps also suggest a different default. Certainly R could print a warning when it starts.
> Tomas
>> Related (but moderately more advanced), why does R still install "everything"
>> under one (versioned) directory so that uninformed users on upgrade "miss"
>> all previously installed packages?
>> Why not (with space for exposition here, imagine s/ // everywhere below)
>>      $SOMEROOTDIR / R /
>>                        R-a.b.c/          # before
>>                        R-a.b.d/          # d > c, here
>>                        site-library/     # with .libPaths having this preset?
>> I don't really care as I manage to work mostly / entirely on another OS, but
>> I just don't understand why we do not put two and two together. But I am
>> likely unaware of some salient issues.
>> In any event, I appreciate the thankless work of those taking care of Windoze
>> (ie Tomas, Jeroen, Duncan (now ex-officio), Brian, ...)
>> Dirk
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