Have you ever tried to download R on the operating system LINUX? Good luck with that!
Did I succeed? That is a good question, and depends on what you consider a “success”.
Did I install R? Yes, I did. Did I get a full picture of what is going on? No, I did not.
The big problem is that I am not a LINUX user but a Macintosh user. So why did I do that? Because I wanted to shed some light on the Linux world and try to explore it!
The first disturbing fact I learned is that LINUX isn’t a single operating system, like WINDOWS, but what we call Linux is, in reality, a LINUX KERNEL which is a Unix-like operating system. UNIX is an operating system commonly used in internet servers and the Linux Kernel is a UNIX clone initially written by Linus Torvalds and added to with the help of thousands of developers.
I quickly understood that Linux, alias Linux Kernel by itself, while powerful, is pretty much useless. It is like an engine of a car – the problem is that you do not drive an engine: it is the main part of an automobile but it is pointless without all the other parts of a vehicle. For this reason, Linux must be tied up with a collection of utilities and interfaces called DISTRIBUTION (nickname “Distro”) that is just an operating system having as a foundation the Linux kernel.
Now, almost six hundred Linux distributions exist – yes, you are reading right, this is not a typo – and I was completely lost on which one to use. So, I asked around and was told that my best choice would be the UBUNTU distribution because:
- it has a great interface,
- it can be used without reading a manual, and
- Linux applications run smoothly on it.
OK – this was good, so I was happy….but I had to find a computer operating with Linux running Ubuntu, and I tried but couldn’t.
I couldn’t quit. I was determined to complete my task, so a friend advised me to install a VIRTUAL MACHINE, an emulation of an operating system, on my laptop so that I could directly work on Linux. I did install a virtual machine on my portable computer and I did download Ubuntu 16.04 (the latest version) on it and all the updates.
Of course, this was not easy and I had help. Finally, I was able to download R and R Studio on Ubuntu following the guidelines I found on the DATA SCIENCE RIOT website.
(I could clearly list here all the commands necessary to download R but this would mean rewriting a post that is not mine.)
So, at the end of my journey, did I learn more about Linux? I surely did, but I feel more ignorant though because the more I read about Linux more I realized my lack of knowledge about it. However I believe this is a shared feeling among lifelong learners, as we all are.