[R] Installing different versions of R simultaneously on Linux

Rainer M Krug r.m.krug at gmail.com
Fri Feb 27 09:53:12 CET 2009


On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 10:41 AM, Berwin A Turlach
<berwin at maths.uwa.edu.au> wrote:
> 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?

Sorry - I am running SuSE on the machine where I need it.

>> 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.

OK - similar to what I did.

> 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

How do I do this? I usually call "sudo make install". Do I have to use
"update-alternative --install R-2.7.1 R 2" if I want to have R-2.7.1
aqs the second priority installed?

> I have /opt in my PATH, thus I can call any R version explicitly by
> R-x.y.z.

That is what I need - but I can't find update-alternatives in SuSE
> 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).

Exactly what I would like to have.

> 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
> alternatives.
> HTH.  Let me know if you need more details.

Thanks a lot - now I just have to know how I can do it under SuSE. I
will keep this in mind and use it for my main cvomputer, which runs


> Cheers,
>        Berwin

Rainer M. Krug, PhD (Conservation Ecology, SUN), MSc (Conservation
Biology, UCT), Dipl. Phys. (Germany)

Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology
Faculty of Science
Natural Sciences Building
Private Bag X1
University of Stellenbosch
Matieland 7602
South Africa

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