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R-2.15.2 and RStudio Desktop on Centos 6.8 with EPEL

Installing Stella Linux, based on Centos 6.8 with the EPEL repository enabled and 'batteries included' multimedia installed, results in a catch-22 with R and RStudio Desktop. Recent versions of RStudio desktop require a QT library later than the one included with Centos 6. The EPEL repository includes a recent version of R, with a new graphics stack, and does not provide an older version of R. Legacy versions of RStudio that can be installed on Centos 6.8 won't work fully with the new graphics stack.

My work around was to compile and install the venerable R-2.15.2 from source, and then to download and install a legacy version of the RStudio rpm binary package. The --nodeps option must be used to install the RStudio rpm as R libraries are installed to /usr/local/lib/R/lib and RStudio can't see them during installation, although it works fine once installed.

The recipe is below, starting from a fresh install of Stella Linux...

#yum update  # around 800Mb of updates after Stella install
#yum grouplist # Lists the install groups available for installation
#yum groupinstall 'Development Tools'  # compilers including Fortran
#yum groupinstall 'Desktop Platform Development'  # Xorg headers for graphics from R
#yum groupinstall 'TeX Support'  # Texlive 2007
#yum install readline-devel  # the last little thing
#cd Downloads
#wget -c https://cran.r-project.org/src/base/R-2/R-2.15.2.tar.g # extracted using nautilus
#cd R-2.15.2
#./configure  --enable-R-shlib   # one warning about inconsolata.sty and building the pdf manuals
#make  # make a cup of coffee, about 15 mins
#make install
#rpm -i --nodeps http://download1.rstudio.org/rstudio-0.97.449-i686.rpm
#yum clean # you won't get nagged about dependencies missing from RStudio all the time

Gives you an insight into the problems faced by admins who support a large and conservative corporate desktop estate. Stella runs really fine on an old Thinkpad.

Keith Burnett, Last update: Sunday January 29th 2017