RStudio Server on OS X El Capitan

October 20, 2016

(This article was first published on Reimagined Invention, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)


This is the result of trial and error until I got RStudio Server working in my network

I have a powerful Mac Pro server and I wanted to use that computing from my “old” iMac (i.e. to do my calculations in a fraction of the time that it would take using my own iMac’s resources)

Homebrew setup

There is a good tutorial for older versions of OS X here. With El Capitan it won’t work, or at least didn’t work for me.

If you don’t have Homebrew installed you’ll need to install it first.

Run these lines from terminal:

brew update 
brew tap homebrew/science
brew install r openssl ant
brew install homebrew/science/rstudio-server

Beware that this will relink the R binaries to /usr/local/bin. It will also install the last R version (3.3.1 on October 21, 2016). Therefore, it would be a good idea to uninstall the previous R version that you have or you will be misusing your drive space.

Additional steps

The last part won’t make rstudio-server running. Similar to what I asked on stackexchange you’ll need some additional steps:

Copy a pre-made plist:

sudo cp /usr/local/opt/rstudio-server/share/com.rstudio.launchd.rserver.plist /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.rstudio.launchd.rserver.plist

Check permissions:

sudo chown root:wheel /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.rstudio.launchd.rserver.plist 
sudo chmod 644 /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.rstudio.launchd.rserver.plist

Modify the plist and enable rstudio-server autostart:

sudo nano /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.rstudio.launchd.rserver.plist

and replace the content by this



Copy a pam:

sudo cp /etc/pam.d/ftpd /etc/pam.d/rstudio

Launch the daemon and start rstudio-server (i.e. sometimes you can’t restart your server without affecting other users):

sudo launchctl load -w /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.rstudio.launchd.rserver.plist
sudo rstudio-server start

Create rstudio group (additional step not mentioned on stackexchange):

Go to System Preferences -> Users & Groups -> Add, create a group named rstudio and click all the users you want to authorize to use rstudio-server.

Using rstudio-server

From your server go to localhost:8787 and you should be able to login usign your OS X credentials.

To login from another computer on the same network, from your browser go to your server’s IP on port 8787 (e.g.

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