R-Sessions 03: Getting R-Project


R-Project is an open-source software package that can be obtained freely from the internet. It is available for a large variety of computer operating systems, such as Linux, MacOSX and Windows. Serving the majority, the installation process will be described for a computer running on windows XP.

Downloading R-Project

The website of R-Project can be found on http://www.r-project.org. The left sidebar contains a header ‘Download’. Below, a link to ‘CRAN’ is provided. CRAN stands for the ‘Comprehensive R Archive Network’ and is a network of several web-servers from which both the software as well as additional packages can be downloaded. When clicked on CRAN, a list of providers of the software is shown. Choose one near the location you’re at. Then, a page is shown with several files that can be downloaded. What we want for now is a ‘precompiled’ piece of software, that is ready for installation.

Screenshot R-Website

Click on the Windows (95 and later) link that is shown near the top of the page. After some words of warning, two options are offered: downloading the base distribution which contains the R-software and the contrib distribution which contains many additional packages. We go for the ‘base’ distribution for now. There, again a few options are offered. Below the ‘In this directory’ heading, some files are shown that are ready for download. Most of them are introductory text files, that assist on the downloading. Now, we want to download the actual installation program that has the name R-2.5.1-win32.exe ((please note: this filename contains the version-number of the software which at the time of writing is 2.5.1. Future versions will obviously have an other filename, although resemblance in naming is to be expected)) . When clicked on, the file will be downloaded to a location on your computer that can be specified.

Screenshot download file

Installing R-Project

Double-click on the downloaded installation file. A welcome-screen appears.

Screenshot welcome

Click on ‘next’ to see (or possibly even read) the license of the software. For those familiar with open-source software the license of R-Project is the ‘GNU General Public License’ which allows the user to alter the program at will and to use it freely. It is not allowed to sell R-Project, but it may be used to make money. Click on ‘Next’ to accept the license and to select a location for installation. It is probably best to accept the standard settings.

Then, four types of installation are offered:

  • User installation
  • Minimal installation
  • Full installation
  • Personalized installation

Screenshot installation options

The options offered create different selections of mostly help- and support files. Again, for general use it is best to accept the standard installation option. Click on ‘Next’ to proceed. It is then asked whether or not you want to change starting-up options. Select ‘No’ to use standard options.

The setup program then prompts for a name and location for the R-program in the Windows start-menu. Choose the nice location you want or accept the default. The next screen offers some final options. The standard is that an icon is created on the windows desktop, that the version number of the R-software is stored in the windows-register (comes in handy when updating) and that data-files with the .RData extension are to be associated with R-Project. It is best to accept these options. When clicked on ‘Next’, the software will be installed. When the installing is done, click on ‘Finish’ to end the installing-program.

R-project is now installed! An icon is placed on your desktop if the standard-options are used during the installation. Double-click on it to start R. It should start swiftly and is now ready for use.

Screenshot finished


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R-Sessions is a collection of manual chapters for R-Project, which are maintained on Curving Normality. All posts are linked to the chapters from the R-Project manual on this site. The manual is free to use, for it is paid by the advertisements, but please refer to it in your work inspired by it. Feedback and topic requests are highly appreciated.
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