[R] Installing different versions of R simultaneously on Linux

Rainer M Krug r.m.krug at gmail.com
Fri Feb 27 13:06:20 CET 2009

On Fri, Feb 27, 2009 at 1:49 PM, Berwin A Turlach
<berwin at maths.uwa.edu.au> wrote:
> G'day Rainer,
> On Fri, 27 Feb 2009 10:53:12 +0200
> Rainer M Krug <r.m.krug at gmail.com> wrote:
>> > What flavour of Linux are we talking about?
>> Sorry - I am running SuSE on the machine where I need it.
> Sorry, I am not familiar with that flavour; before switching to Debian
> (and Debian based distributions), I was using RedHat.  And before that
> Slackware.
>> > 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 do the "make install" step manually, the script just alerts the
> system that another alternative for the R command was installed.
> If memory serves correctly, the "alternatives" mechanism was developed
> by Debian and adopted by RedHat (or the other way round).  I am not
> sure whether SuSE has adopted this, or a similar system.
> Essentially, for a command, say foo, for which several alternatives
> exists, is installed on the system in, say /usr/bin/, as a link
> to /etc/alternatives/foo and /etc/alternatives/foo is a link to the
> actual program that is called.
> E.g. on my machine I have
> berwin at berwin-nus1:~$ update-alternatives --list wish
> /usr/bin/wish8.5
> /usr/bin/wish8.4
> which tells me that wish 8.5 and wish8.4 are installed and I could call
> them explicitly.  /usr/bin/wish is a link to /etc/alternatives/wish
> and /etc/alternatives/wish will point to either of these two programs
> (depending on what the system admin decided should be the default, i.e.
> should be used if a user just types 'wish').
> A command like "update-alternatives --config wish" allows to configure
> whether "wish" should mean "wish8.5" or "wish8.4".  And all that is
> necessary is to change the link in /etc/alternatives/wish to point at
> the desired program.
>> That is what I need - but I can't find update-alternatives in SuSE
> As I said, I do not know whether SuSE offers this alternatives system
> or a similar system.  If it does, perhaps it is just a matter of
> installing some additional packages?  If it offers a different, but
> similar system, then you would have to ask on a SuSE list on that
> system is maintained and configured.
> On my machine I would say "apt-file search update-alternatives" to find
> out which package provides that command and to install that package if
> it is not yet installed.  I am afraid I do not know what the equivalent
> command on SuSE is.
>> > 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.
> Well, if you ever use a system that has the alternatives set up and the
> update-alternatives command, I am happy to share my script with you.

Thanks a lot for the offer - that would be great. I will set it up the
same way on m y PC with Xubuntu.



> Cheers,
>        Berwin
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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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