Friday, August 3, 2007

Using RExecServer from ESS

In the long term I hope that most of this can be configured by an Installer of some sort, but for those wanting to use RExecServer with ESS, here's how my setup is currently configured:

When I use Emacs at all (which is very rarely these days, I mostly use TextMate) I use Aquamacs, which ships with ESS installed. Hopefully the instructions won't be all that different for people using Carbon Emacs and what have you (and if they are, perhaps people would be so kind as to post their changes). I'm also not a super-sophisticated ESS user so there might be better ways of doing the ESS side of things.

First, though, we need to get ourselves easy access to RExecServer from the command line. I like to do this via a symbolic link in /usr/local/bin (/usr/bin would also work). You'd think that we could just symlink and be done with it, but the way OS X starts applications is... uh... strange and doing that will cause all sorts of problems because the bundle loader won't be able to find any resources and promptly crash out. It's not pretty. What we need to do is actually set a special environment variable called CFProcessPath to point to the application bundle rather than /usr/local or whatever.

Fortunately, I made this into a little script so you won't have to do it yourself. It lives in the Resources folder of the application bundle. So, from Terminal we would do something like:

$ cd /usr/local/bin
$ sudo ln -s /Applications/ R-exec

if you have put somewhere other than Applications, use that path instead of "/Applications." That's pretty much all there is to it. Of course, "/usr/local/bin" should be in your path

$ R-exec

R version 2.6.0 Under development (unstable) (2007-07-14 r42234)
Copyright (C) 2007 The R Foundation for Statistical Computing
ISBN 3-900051-07-0

R is free software and comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.
You are welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions.
Type 'license()' or 'licence()' for distribution details.

Natural language support but running in an English locale

R is a collaborative project with many contributors.
Type 'contributors()' for more information and
'citation()' on how to cite R or R packages in publications.

Type 'demo()' for some demos, 'help()' for on-line help, or
'help.start()' for an HTML browser interface to help.
Type 'q()' to quit R.


You should be able to use R-exec from Terminal just like normal R. For ESS, I have a line in my .emacs file:

(require 'ess-site)
(setq inferior-R-program-name "R-exec")

that starts my RExecServer version of R instead of the normal version. Once upon a time, I think I read that ESS is smart enough to detect multiple installed versions of R with specially named symlinks, but I don't know how to get it to work (if an ESS expert knows how to do this, please chime in).

In any case, that's pretty much all there is to it. Hopefully that helps, but if you have questions please email me or (better yet so others can see) leave a comment.

1 comment:

Hank Stevens said...

Hi Byron,
Thanks for the instructions. For some unknown reason, they are not working. I am using
Mac OS X 10.4.10
Aquamacs 1.1
R 2.6.0 (I also tried 2.5.1)

/usr/local/bin is in my path,

I set the link as described (cut and paste), and restarted Aquamacs.

A fully functional quartz device would be highly desireable (as opposed to using library(CarbonEL) ).

Any comments would be appreciated