[R] Downloading data from from internet

cls59 chuck at sharpsteen.net
Sat Sep 26 20:22:22 CEST 2009

Duncan Temple Lang wrote:
> However, you can use the source form of the package as a Windows
> user; you just have to install it. That involves finding out how to do
> this
> (either with Uwe's Windows package building service or by installing the
> tools
> that Brian Ripley and Duncan Murdoch have spent time making available to
> more easily use.)

As a footnote to this, the tools required to enable package building on
Windows are available at:


Download and run the installer for your version of R. Make sure you allow
the installer to modify your PATH. After installing the tools, you should be
able to build and install most packages from within R via:

install.packages( 'packageName', type = 'source' )

Duncan Temple Lang wrote:
> Generally (i.e. not pointing fingers at any one in particular), I do wish
> Windows users would learn
> how to do things for themselves and not put further burden on people who
> provide them with "free"
> software and "free" advice to also provide them with binary versions of
> easily
> installed packages. It does take time for us to maintain different
> operating
> systems and to create binaries. Running Windows and not being able to
> install
> R packages from source is a choice, not a technical limitation.
>  D.

I echo this sentiment as well-- but personally I believe this is mostly a
symptom of Microsoft's decision to provide such a sorry excuse for a command
line in Windows. Most Windows users never even consider "building from
source" because it's not something that their operating system is capable of
doing out of the box.

This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that most IT departments go
to such ridiculous lengths to lock their users out of Windows in an attempt
to "secure" it. For example, I couldn't install Rtools on my workstation at
the university even if I wanted to-- luckily all of our computers can dual
boot into Linux.

The lack of a decent command line prestocked with common tools, such as Perl
and a C compiler, is the main reason I consider Windows an operating system
of last resort.

Here endeth the rant.


Charlie Sharpsteen
Environmental Resources Engineering
Humboldt State University
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