[Rd] Appetite for eliminating dependency on Perl

Ken Williams ken@hoo @end|ng |rom gm@||@com
Fri Aug 9 00:37:38 CEST 2019

Preamble: I am in no way opposed to Perl in general - I love Perl and
probably always will.

R currently has Perl as both a build-time and run-time dependency.  This
adds about 200 Mb, give or take, to the required environment size (as
measured in CentOS - looks like it might be a bit smaller in Ubuntu?).

Not such a huge deal, really, but the actual benefit R gets from the
dependency is quite small.  From my poking around in the R sources (using
`git grep -P '\bperl\b(?! ?= ?(?:TRUE|FALSE))' ` as a filter), it looks
like it's only used in the following nooks & crannies:

* tools/help2man.pl
* tools/install-info.pl
* configure:      INSTALL_INFO="perl \$(top_srcdir)/tools/install-info.pl"
* m4/R.m4:      INSTALL_INFO="perl \$(top_srcdir)/tools/install-info.pl"

Ultimately that's only two scripts.  `help2man.pl` seems like it's part of
the build process, but not used at runtime.  `install-info.pl` seems like
maybe it's runnable at runtime, but requires user initiation to run, at
which point the user is expected to have perl installed.  Either one of
them could probably be ported to another language pretty easily, maybe even

Anything else I missed?

If someone were to volunteer the porting work, would there be any appetite
for eliminating the dependency?


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