[R] Installing different versions of R simultaneously on Linux

Berwin A Turlach berwin at maths.uwa.edu.au
Fri Feb 27 09:41:56 CET 2009

G'day Rainer,

On Fri, 27 Feb 2009 09:34:11 +0200
Rainer M Krug <r.m.krug at gmail.com> wrote:

> I want to install some versions of R simultaneously from source on a
> computer (running Linux). [...]

What flavour of Linux are we talking about?

> If it is not, how is it possible to have several versions of R on one
> computer, or is the only way to compile them and then call R in the
> directory of the version where it was compiled (~/R-2.7.2/bin/R)?

For Debian based machines (I first used Debian, nowadays Kubuntu), I
got into the following habit:

1) Unpack the R sources in /opt/src
2) Enter /opt/src/R-x.y.z and run configure with
   --prefix=/opt/R/R-x.y.z (and other options) 
3) Build R with checks and documentation from source and install.
4) Run in /opt/src a script that uses "update-alternative" install to
   install the new version and creates a link from /opt/R/R-x.y.z/bin/R
   to /opt/bin/R-x.y.z

I have /opt in my PATH, thus I can call any R version explicitly by

Typing R alone, will usually start the most recently installed
version (as this will have the highest priority) but I can configure
that via "sudo update-alternatives --config R".  I.e., I can make R run
a particular version.  Since the "update-alternative" step above also
registers all the *.info files and man pages, I will also access the
documentation of that particular R version (e.g., C-h i in emacs will
give me access to the info version of the manuals of the version of R
which is run by the R command).

Over time, typically when the linux system is upgraded, libraries on
which old R-x.y.z binaries relied vanish.  At that time I usually
delete /opt/R/R-x.y.z and remove that version from the available

HTH.  Let me know if you need more details.



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