[R] Size of R user base

David Whiting david.whiting at ncl.ac.uk
Tue Apr 20 14:29:59 CEST 2004

"Philippe Grosjean" <phgrosjean at sciviews.org> writes:


> A last comment/question: would it be possible to add some code in R that
> does the following:
> 1) it is triggered only if the software was used at least, let's say 10, or
> 20 times on the computer where it was installed,
> 2) then it checks if an update of R is available (just by looking if a given
> link in a centralized web site -CRAN?- exists),
> 3) when it finds that link, it just warns the user of an update in a not
> annoying way, for instance like that:


> An update is available at http://cran.r-project.org.

> and,
> 4) it deactivate itself once the link is found.


> Of course, this will only work with computers connected to the internet,...
> but at least, it could be one way to evaluate the number of R users. Would
> that be an infringment of Open Source, or any other rule of freedom? I don't
> know, but it does seem to be quite widespread (at least for commercial
> software). so, why an Open Source software would not be able to monitor the
> number of users?

Smoothwall (www.smoothwall.org) does (did?) that, so there is an Open
Source precedent.  They did it both to keep an eye on the number of
installations and to inform users of updates.  I have no idea how
accurate they think their statistics are though.  Also, Smoothwall is
a firewall so it going to be connected to the internet frequently and
judging by the discussions so far the definition of a "Smoothwall
installation" seems to be easier to pin-down than that of an "R-user."

One other concern: would it cause some kind of lag on startup if it
has to check, especially when a machine is not connected or has a slow

David Whiting
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

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