Checking your R package on Solaris

May 13, 2020
By

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TL;DR

  1. To check your package on Solaris, call rhub::check() as usual and
    choose one of our Solaris builders.

  2. Bookmark this page, in case you get an email from CRAN about your
    package failing on Solaris.

Oracle Solaris

Oracle Solaris
is a non-free Unix operating system. CRAN regularly
tests R packages
on Solaris 10. See this talk by Uwe Ligges
if you want to know more about the motivation for this, at 32:45.

This is a post about checking that your R package on Solaris, using R-hub,
and how you can create your own Solaris virtual
machine to debug your R code.

OpenCSW

OpenCSW is a repository of open source
software packages. It uses a package manager tool called pkgutil.
pkgutil is similar to apt, yum, etc.

OpenCSW greatly varies in terms of how current its various packages are.
By default OpenCSW uses its “testing” distribution, which has a rolling
release model. The most recently added packages are in the “unstable”
distribution. OpenCSW unstable has now a new R 4.0.0 build, called
r_base. It will move to the “testing” distibution in a couple of days.
OpenCSW r_base 4.0.0 is one of the R builds used on R-hub’s Solaris
builder.

R-hub also has a repository (catalog) of OpenCSW packages,
which we use for system requirements that are not (yet) updated in the
official OpenCSW catalog. The R-hub catalog is at
https://files.r-hub.io/opencsw/. (This is the URL you need to use in
the pkgutil.conf file or with pkgutil -t.)

CRAN’s Solaris builder

CRAN uses two sets of compilers for their R package checks.
Oracle Developer Studio
(ODS) is a commercial product that supports Oracle Solaris 10. In addition,
OpenCSW packages GCC, version 5.5.0 currently.

CRAN compiles R packages with ODS by default. If ODS is not able to
compile a package, they use GCC instead. GCC should be able to compile
most (all?) CRAN R packages. Notably, Rcpp and all packages linking to it
are compiled with GCC.

The CRAN package check flavours page
links to the details of the Solaris configuration.

R-hub’s Solaris builder

R-hub’s setup is similar. Our Solaris virtual machine has three R
versions:

If you call rhub::platforms() you’ll see two
Solaris builders:

  • solaris-x86-patched uses the 32-bit GCC build of R. This is also what
    rhub::check_on_solaris() uses.
  • solaris-x86-patched-ods uses the 32-bit GCC build to install all
    dependencies of the package, but then runs R CMD check with the ODS
    build. This maximizes the chance of a meaningful R CMD check run.

System requirements

It is unclear how system requirements are installed on CRAN’s Solaris.
R-hub’s Solaris machine installs all system requirements from OpenCSW.
The list of installed packages are in the solarischeck GitHub repository.

If you need another library for your package, please let use know and
we can install it. See the current list of OpenCSW packages.

If the library you need is missing from OpenCSW, or it is outdated,
let us know, there is a good chance that we can add it or update it.

Creating your own Solaris 10 VM

R-hub’s Solaris check is great if you want to make sure that your package
works on Solaris before a CRAN submission. If it does not work, and the
fix is not obvious, then you probably want to debug it on a Solaris
machine.

We have a template for the packer automated VM builder
tool that helps you do this with as little work as possible. (Which is not
the same as little work, mind you!) You’ll need:

  • A sufficiently powerful computer to run a virtual machine.
  • packer, available for Windows, macOS, Linux, free and open source.
  • Virtualization software: VMware or VirtualBox. VirtualBox is open
    source and available for many platforms. VMware has free evaluation
    versions.
  • You need to create an Oracle ID, and download the Oracle Solaris 10
    install DVD image and also Oracle Developer Studio. They are free for
    non-commercial use, without support.
  • You need to wait about 15-30 minutes for packer to build the virtual
    machine.

Please see the detailed steps in the docs of the solarischeck repo.

If you want to install Solaris yourself without the packer automation,
our internal R-hub docs have a detailed walkthrough.

Need help? Contact us!

If creating a virtual machine is not the right solution for you, do not
despair! We have other ways to help you with your Solaris issues, please
contact us by opening an issue in the R-hub issue tracker.

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