Load R

Conda-based R Environments

We recommend setting up your own R installation using Conda so you can manage your own packages and dependencies. You can find detailed instructions on our Conda page. The conda package repository has many (though not all) of the common R packages that can be installed with the typical conda syntax:

# Source the conda environment
$ source activate my_r_env

# Install the lattice package (r-lattice) from the r channel (-c r)
(my_r_env)$ conda install -c r r-lattice

If there are packages that conda does not provide, you can install them locally from within R using the install.packages function. To install a package (lattice for example) directly, simply run:

$ module load miniconda
$ source activate my_r_env
(my_r_env)$ R

> install.packages("lattice", repos="http://cran.r-project.org")

Each conda environment manages a unique $R_LIBS directory so that there is no conflict between installations.

System Environment

We also provide a basic R installing on some of the clusters which you can use. However, if you find it is missing packages you need, we recommend setting up your own environment as described above.

Run one of the commands below, which will list available versions and the corresponding module files:

module avail R

Load the appropriate module file. For example, to run versionĀ 3.4.1:

module load  R/3.4.1-foss-2016b

The module load command sets up your environment, including the PATH to find the proper version of R.

This installation includes the most commonly used packages, but if something specific is required, packages can be installed into your local space. To get started load the R module and start R:

$ module load R/3.4.1-foss-2016b
$ R
> install.packages("lattice", repos="http://cran.r-project.org")

This will throw a warning like:

Warning in install.packages("lattice") :
'lib = "/ysm-gpfs/apps/software/R/3.4.1-foss-2016b/lib64/R/library"' is not writable
Would you like to create a personal library
to install packages into?  (y/n)

This will install the lattice package locally and will then be available to load into an R session.

Alternatively, you can install R packages from the command line using:

conda install -c [channel-name] [package-name]

You can search for available packages on the conda website.

Parallel R

It is often desireable to use R in parallel across multiple nodes. While there are a few different ways this can be achieved, we recommend using conda to set up a specific R environment with the required packages and libraries.

In particular, you will need Rmpi, doMC, and doMPI. The first two can be installed via conda, while the last one must be installed manually.

To get started, load the miniconda module and create a new environment using the conda-forge channel:

# load the miniconda module
module load miniconda

# create the environment with the required packages
conda create --name parallel_r -c conda-forge r-base r-essentials r-doMC r-Rmpi

# activate the environment
source activate parallel_r

This will produce an environment that is nearly ready to-go. The last step is to install doMPI, which at the moment is not available via conda. We can use the install.packages method from within R to get this final piece:

(parallel_r) $ R
> install.packages('doMPI')

It's important that this last step is performed on a login node so that it doesn't interfere with the SLURM scheduler. Once this is complete, you should have a fully functional parallel-enabled R environment.

To test it, we can create a simple R script named ex1.R



mpi.bcast(val, 1, 0, 0)
print(paste("me", me, "val", val))


Then we can launch it with an sbatch script (ex1.sh):


#SBATCH -n 4 -N 4 -t 5:00
#SBATCH --mail-type=none

module purge
module load miniconda

source activate parallel_r

mpirun R --slave -f ex1.R

This script should execute a simple broadcast and complete in a few seconds.

Run R

To run R, launch it using the R command.

# launch an R session
# or to launch a script
R --slave -f myscript.R


The R program is too large to fit on a login node. If you try to run it there, it will crash. Instead, launch it in an interactive or batch job (see below).

Interactive Job

To run R interactively, you need to launch an interactive session on a compute node. For example

srun --pty -p interactive -t 4:00:00 bash

Once your interactive session starts, you can load the appropriate module file and start R as described above.

See our Slurm documentation for more detailed information on requesting resources for interactive jobs.

Batch Mode

To run R in batch mode, you create a batch script. In that script, you would invoke your R script in batch mode.

#SBATCH -J my_r_program

R --slave -f myscript.R

Last update: August 30, 2019