[Rd] Offer zip builds

Jeroen Ooms jeroen @end|ng |rom berke|ey@edu
Thu Jun 6 12:33:56 CEST 2019

On Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 5:40 PM Steven Penny <svnpenn using gmail.com> wrote:
> Theres nothing nefarious here. It would allow people to use the R environment
> without running an installer. If someone is a new user they may want to try
> R out, and installers can be invasive as they commonly:
> - copy files to install dir
> - copy files to profile dir
> - set registry entries
> - set environment variables
> - set start menu entries
> and historically uninstallers have a bad record of reverting these changes.
> should not put this burden upon new users or even having them resort to virtual
> machine to avoid items above. having a ZIP file allows new users to run the
> R environment, then if they like it perhaps they can run the installer going
> forward.

This is a valid suggestion, but probably impossible to do reliably.
Most installers (the R one is completely open source btw) perform
those steps for a reason. It is great if software can be installed
simply by extracting a zip file somewhere, but if this is what you
desire, you're using the wrong operating system.

We only offer official installation options that work 100% reliably
and I don't think this can be accomplished with a zip file. For
example a zip file won't be able to set the installation location in
the registry, and hence other software such as RStudio won't be able
to find the R installation. Also a zip installation might mix up
package libraries from different R versions (which is bad), or users
might expect they can upgrade R by overwriting their installation with
a new zip (also bad). Hence I'm afraid offering such alternative
installation options would open a new can of worms with bug reports
from Windows users with broken installations, or packages that don't
work as expected.

As for alternatives, 'rportable' and 'innoextract' have already been
mentioned if you really just want to dump the files from the
installer, if that works for you. Another popular option to install
(any) Windows software without manually running installers is using
chocolatey, for example:

  choco install miktex
  choco install r.project

This will still indirectly use official installers, but the installers
have been verified as "safe" by external folks and the installation is
completely automated. Perhaps that's another compromise you could live

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