[ESS] XEmacs, ESS on Cygwin and R on Windows XP: inferrior-ess-prompt problem

Rodney Sparapani rsparapa at mcw.edu
Fri Jun 3 16:53:40 CEST 2011

Vasiliev, Boris wrote:
> Good morning,
> I am setting up a Windows XP system with Cygwin, XEmacs, R, and ESS and
> I run into a problem - M-x R does not start an R process.  I would
> greatly appreciate your help or comments on how to approach the problem.
> For R, I have R for Windows, version 2.13.0, with executables in
> c:/R/R-2.13.0/bin/i386.
> For XEmacs, I use XEmacs 21.4 (Patch 22) that is offered in the latest
> release of Cygwin 1.7.9.   XEmacs runs in Windows native GUI mode (not
> X11 or console mode)
> For ESS, I installed ESS 5.13 in the cygwin directory tree at
> /usr/local/share/xemacs/site-packages/ess-5.13
> The initialization file for XEmacs, ~/.xemacs/init.el, has only few
> lines:
> ;; ?need this definition to get XEmacs to load ESS; otherwise ESS
> complains?
> (defun w32-short-file-name (x)
> "Placeholder for use with XEmacs.  The real function in Emacs returns
> 8.3 version of full path name of the
> Argument.  This placeholder returns its argument only."
> x)
> (setq inferior-R-program-name /cygdrive/c/R/R-2.13.0/bin/i386/Rterm.exe)
> (require 'ess-site)
> XEmacs recognizes ESS (there is an *ESS* buffer), but when I use "M-x R"
> to start R XEmacs hangs. In the *ESS* buffer there are messages that ESS
> is setting up communication with R.  The final line is
> "Making Process...Buf *R*, Proc R, Prog
> /cygdrive/c/R/R-2.13.0/bin/i386/Rterm.exe Start file=nil, Args=--ess ."
> After a while, a message appears in the command buffer: "Timeout waiting
> for prompt.  Check inferior-ess-prompt or ess-loop-timeout."
> Surprisingly, if an .R file is already open I can start R by pressing
> the R button below the menus.
>>From looking at the forums, this is a known problem but I could not find
> a solution.  Apart from installing XEmacs, ESS, and R in the same
> environment, either Windows or Cygwin, is there a simple way to solve
> this problem?  (I am hesitant to install R on Cygwin because the R Team
> does support the Cygwin port but it supports the Windows version.  I am
> hesitant to install XEmacs on Windows because I keep most of my work in
> Cygwin directory tree and I am not sure how well XEmacs on Windows will
> handle it.)
> Regards,
> Boris. 

Hi Boris:

Shouldn't that be ...
(setq inferior-R-program-name "/cygdrive/c/R/R-2.13.0/bin/i386/Rterm.exe")

If that is not the problem or it does not help, then read on for more
radical tips (heavy XEmacs users look away now)...

Is there some reason that you need to use XEmacs?  I have never been a
fan of XEmacs on Windows.  I find XEmacs to be pretty serviceable on
Linux and Unix, but I have never liked the Windows or Mac OS X versions. 
  Some times switching from XEmacs to Emacs (or vice versa)
will fix these kinds of problems.


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