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I hope that this question is appropriate for this site (if not, please accept my apologies). I am a professional statistician who uses the statistical programming language R. I'm currently building my own desktop computer and would like to run Linux as my operating system. Instead of base R, I'd like to use Revolution R Enterprise which lists Redhat Enterprise Linux as the required Linux distribution (more specifically, I was told by Revolution Analytic's technical support that "Since our installer requires the 'yum' package manager, Revolution R Enterprise for Linux is currently supported by Redhat Enterprise Linux").

I've run Ubuntu on my Mac OS X computer and liked Ubuntu. While Ubuntu does not use the 'yum' package manager, can I install Revolution R Enterprise on a computer with Ubuntu? If not, do I need to have Redhat Enterprise Linux or can I use another Linux distribution?

**ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The archive file provided by Revolution has file format tar.gz.

From the installation manual:

2.1 System Requirements Revolution R Enterprise for Red Hat Enterprise Linux has the following system requirements: Processor 64-bit processor with x86-compatible architecture (variously known as AMD64, Intel 64, x86-64, IA-32e, EM64T, or x64 chips). Itanium-architecture chips (also known as IA-64) are not supported. Multiple-core chips are recommended. Operating System Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 or 5.5. Memory A minimum of 1GB of RAM is required; 4GB or more are recommended. Disk Space A minimum of 500MB of disk space are required.

2.2 Package Dependencies Revolution R Enterprise, like most Linux applications, depends upon a number of Linux packages. The first of these, listed in Table 2.1, require manual installation, and must be installed before you run the automated script. While the list of dependencies may look daunting, it actually involves installing just six packages: • rpmlib • glibc • libICE • libgcc • libstdc++ • unixODBC

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It looks like Revolution R Enterprise only supports RHEL, so installing it on anything other than that might be risky depending on how critical it is. That being said, you can install yum on Ubuntu by running sudo apt-get install yum. –  maxmackie Dec 13 '11 at 3:01
    
I'm assuming you have the RRE binaries somewhere? Are they in a tarball? An .rpm file? YUM is just a package manager, so while RRE might require RHEL as a system (for compatibility), chances are installing it on another system should be trivial. If we know the file format we can suggest some things. –  maxmackie Dec 13 '11 at 5:38
    
@MaxMackie - In a few hours, I'll check the file format of the RRE binaries and get back to you. –  Jubbles Dec 13 '11 at 21:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In general, just using yum is not sufficient for package compatibility. The rpm package format is relatively flexible, in the sense that it doesn't impose much by way of policy. The R package you want to use could be packaged such that they're distribution agnostic and just need to be unpacked via yum. However, it is more likely that they follow a whole host of assumptions about the distribution beyond yum itself — what libraries are available, what they're named, where they put their files (and what rpm packages those things come from).

In that case, you'll be best off with Red Hat Enterprise Linux itself, or with CentOS or Scientific Linux (both of which are built from the source packages provided by Red Hat). You may also be able to use Fedora, which is a community-built distribution in the same "family" (and generally much more desktop focused and bleeding edge).

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Thanks for the informative response. In your opinion, is CentOS or Scientific Linux an adequate substitute for RHEL, or should I just pay for RHEL? –  Jubbles Dec 15 '11 at 22:44
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CentOS has as a troubling record of getting out updates very slowly in the past year. I have not seriously investigated Scientific Linux in several years but what I've heard recently is encouraging. I think that if you have a high level of expertise, it can be a good choice, but if you don't, the price for RHEL is justified. –  mattdm Dec 15 '11 at 23:01
    
I do not have a high level of Linux expertise (although I'm trying to improve), so I think that I'll take your advice and subscribe to RHEL Desktop. –  Jubbles Dec 16 '11 at 15:01
    
And in this particular case, that's what th software you need asks for, and by just going with what they say, you won't be a corner case and you'll get better support. –  mattdm Dec 16 '11 at 15:12

It sounds like that particular version of R expects RHEL. I suspect the safest option (without having to pay for RHEL) would be to use CentOS which is basically RHEL with all of the trademarks removed. CentOS attempts to maintain binary compatibility with RHEL, so I think it's the one least likely to cause problems.

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If you must use yum. You can choose between Centos, Scientific Linux, or Fedora. The last one has more up-to-date softwares and easier to use. Centos and Scientific Linux is exactly Redhat Enterprise Linux clone.

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also, dont let the "scientific" name fool you. It's called that because i think the guys at CERN produce it. –  Sirex Dec 13 '11 at 7:41
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Yes, the first time I see "Scientific Linux", I think that distro is some sort of special distro for scientist. –  favadi Dec 13 '11 at 8:20
    
CERN maintains "Scientific Linux" for university purposes. So they have some additional repos often needed there. Apart from that the project is very similar to CentOS but has much more manpower behind it. –  Nils Dec 13 '11 at 20:10

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