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Installing R on Dreamhost VPS

I have had an account at Dreamhost since this summer, and have been using it for web hosting and some storage. But I’ve now started using it to run computations in R;. As I went through the installation process I could find very little guidance so I wanted to share what I’ve learned for the next person who is looking to do this.

First, you need superuser privileges. I believe this is not possible on the shared host plan, but with a Dreamhost VPS in the dashboard it’s under “VPS => Manage Admin Users.” The new user will get his own space on your server. I guess it might make sense for your main user (i.e. you) to be an admin user; since I had not done this, I found that after ssh’ing as the admin user I needed to cd up and over to the space on the server in which I had been working, i.e. the space belonging to the existing user.

Then you need to install R under debian linux. I found what I needed here:

sudo apt-get install r-base-dev

The server will ask for your password, to confirm that you are a superuser. Then installation should proceed.

To confirm that it worked, and to begin working, type “R” on the command line. (I was actually confused about this, because on my Mac I typically type “r” but this was not recognized on the server even after installing R.) I was very happy to see when this worked, because I wasn’t sure exactly what I could install on Dreamhost.

In my next post I’ll talk a bit about my workflow using R on the server.

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