Chapter 1 Obtaining R

Sources, binaries and documentation for R can be obtained via CRAN, the “Comprehensive R Archive Network” whose current members are listed at

1.1 Getting and unpacking the sources

The simplest way is to download the most recent R-x.y.z.tar.gz file, and unpack it with

tar -xf R-x.y.z.tar.gz

on systems that have a suitable1 tar installed. On other systems you need to have the gzip program installed, when you can use

gzip -dc R-x.y.z.tar.gz | tar -xf -

The pathname of the directory into which the sources are unpacked should not contain spaces, as most make programs (and specifically GNU make) do not expect spaces.

If you want the build to be usable by a group of users, set umask before unpacking so that the files will be readable by the target group (e.g., umask 022 to be usable by all users). Keep this setting of umask whilst building and installing.

If you use a recent GNU version of tar and do this as a root account (which on Windows includes accounts with administrator privileges) you may see many warnings about changing ownership. In which case you can use

tar --no-same-owner -xf R-x.y.z.tar.gz

and perhaps also include the option –no-same-permissions. (These options can also be set in the TAR_OPTIONS environment variable: if more than one option is included they should be separated by spaces.)

1.2 Getting patched and development versions

A patched version of the current release, ‘r-patched’, and the current development version, ‘r-devel’, are available as daily tarballs and via access to the R Subversion repository. (For the two weeks prior to the release of a minor (3.x.0) version, ‘r-patched’ tarballs may refer to beta/release candidates of the upcoming release, the patched version of the current release being available via Subversion.)

The tarballs are available from Download R-patched.tar.gz or R-devel.tar.gz (or the .tar.bz2 versions) and unpack as described in the previous section. They are built in exactly the same way as distributions of R releases.

1.2.1 Using Subversion and rsync

Sources are also available via, the R Subversion repository. If you have a Subversion client (see, you can check out and update the current ‘r-devel’ from and the current ‘r-patched’ from ‘’ (where x and y are the major and minor number of the current released version of R). E.g., use

svn checkout path

to check out ‘r-devel’ into directory path (which will be created if necessary). The alpha, beta and RC versions of an upcoming x.y.0 release are available from ‘’ in the four-week period prior to the release.

Note that ‘https:’ is required2, and that the SSL certificate for the Subversion server of the R project should be recognized as from a trusted source.

Note that retrieving the sources by e.g. wget -r or svn export from that URL will not work (and will give a error early in the make process): the Subversion information is needed to build R.

The Subversion repository does not contain the current sources for the recommended packages, which can be obtained by rsync or downloaded from CRAN. To use rsync to install the appropriate sources for the recommended packages, run ./tools/rsync-recommended from the top-level directory of the R sources.

If downloading manually from CRAN, do ensure that you have the correct versions of the recommended packages: if the number in the file VERSION is ‘x.y.z’ you need to download the contents of ‘’, where dir is ‘x.y.z/Recommended’ for r-devel or x.y-patched/Recommended for r-patched, respectively, to directory src/library/Recommended in the sources you have unpacked. After downloading manually you need to execute tools/link-recommended from the top level of the sources to make the requisite links in src/library/Recommended. A suitable incantation from the top level of the R sources using wget might be (for the correct value of dir)

wget -r -l1 --no-parent -A\*.gz -nd -P src/library/Recommended \