Beat the Delays: installing R and the BH package on a memory stick

November 13, 2017
By

(This article was first published on R – Jocelyn Ireson-Paine's Blog, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

I use R on a range of Windows machines. Often,
I’ll only use these once, and they won’t already
have R. So
I want to carry
an installation with me. So I decided to install R on a memory stick.
Installing R itself worked, once I’d changed the folder
on the “Select Destination Location” pop-up. But when
I then tried installing the Tidyverse package, it seemed to
hang. This is just a note for others facing the same problem,
which in my case was caused by the BH package.

I tried installing Tidyverse packages one by one, and found
that the hang was probably caused by BH. Some Googling led me
to “mondano”‘s question
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/31272280/installation-of-r-package-bh-not-possible.
To which Dirk Eddelbuettel replied that “BH, as a sizeable subset of
Boost Headers is
big, as in really big”. It’s
111 megabytes, and mondano might
simply
have run out of patience if Windows was slow writing the files.

So I tried installing BH on its own, and using the Windows
file explorer to watch the files. Indeed, I could see a temporary
copy of BH slowly taking shape in a subdirectory of
R-3.4.2/library called
file1afc7c1c1629, with files
slowly appearing under its subdirectories. Presumably, once the
temporary copy had been made, R would copy it upwards to
library where the other packages lived.

But after far too many minutes — memory sticks must
be really slow — when the temporary copy was complete,
it never did get copied upwards. Instead, I
got the error Warning: unable to move temporary installation.

It would be nice to have been told the reason for the
failure, but R is not that clever.
There was enough space on
the stick, so that wasn’t the problem. Time to Google
once more. In
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5700505/windows-7-update-packages-problem-unable-to-move-temporary-installation,
Tal Galili had the same error with the MASS package. The
consensus reply was that this is probably an antivirus program
locking a file.

So I installed R, and the Tidyverse, on my hard drive,
which always works. I then copied its version of the final
BH install to R-3.4.2/library. And the memory-stick
Tidyverse then worked beautifully.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: R – Jocelyn Ireson-Paine's Blog.

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