R-devel going away

Tom "spot" Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Thu Oct 23 13:55:08 UTC 2008

This email serves as an announcement that I plan to swallow up R-devel
into the base R package. Why?

* It is causing no end of user complaints. The typical R user expects to
be able to do a "CPAN" (really, I should say "CRAN") style package
install through the R interface:


This doesn't work unless you have R-devel installed. The average R user
is a professor or a student, and neither of them are going to
necessarily possess the necessary Linux/Fedora knowledge to be able to
understand why this doesn't work like the R documentation says it

* The size of the R-devel is tiny, about 440K installed. It will not
bloat the main package to absorb the .h files and a .pc file into the
main package. There are no libraries in the R-devel package.

* The primary users of R-devel are R addon packages. They can continue
to BuildRequires: R-devel safely (hooray for Provides/Requires).

* libRmath (the R shared library) will still be a separate package.
libRmath-devel will still be a separate package. As far as I know,
nothing in Fedora uses libRmath, nor is libRmath-devel necessary for
building R addons.

Now, I recognize that this is a violation of the Fedora Packaging
Guidelines, and I've given a lot of thought to this over the last few
days, and technically, this is a reversal of my earlier stance (which is
to stick to the guidelines). However, I think this is a key
functionality that Fedora R users expect to just work, and I want to try
to make sure that they get the best R experience out of the box that
they can. 

As Martyn Plummer pointed out:

   There are currently 1533 packages/bundles on CRAN, not counting the
   recommended packages that are already distributed with R. Of these
   packages, 420 require to the R headers. Fedora only supplies RPMs for
   of them.

I'm not entirely sure if I need FESCo or FPC approval to take this
action, if so, this is my notice of requesting it. ;)

I'm also looking for feedback and comments, of course. 


~spot (Fedora R maintainer)

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