[ESS] problem starting help in ESS

William McCoy wdmccoy at geo.umass.edu
Tue Dec 12 20:41:24 CET 2017

(I am re-sending this message after seeing that my previous post is 
being held for the moderator because I was not recognized as a member of 
the list.  I am a long-time member of this list, but I see my sending 
email address has changed slightly since the time of my initial 
registration to the list.  Sorry if you get duplicates of my message.)

After a long absence from using ESS with R in XEmacs, I am beginning to 
use ESS now in Emacs.  However, I have a problem when trying to use 
help() or C-c C-v in an R session.

While running R in emacs in text or gui mode and trying to get help by 
any method, I get an ESS Help buffer in a new window with only the 
following message:

emacsclient: file name or argument required
Try 'emacsclient --help' for more information

I can't seem to get any help page to load.  I presume there is something 
wrong with my setup, but I can't find information about how to correct 
this problem.  Can someone tell me what I need to do to set up ESS 
correctly on my system?

I include relevant system info below.  Let me know if I have left 
something out that will help you evaluate this problem:

When I start an R session, I get the following:

  > if(identical(getOption('pager'), file.path(R.home('bin'), 'pager'))) 
# rather take the ESS one
  +       options(pager='cat')
  > options(STERM='iESS', str.dendrogram.last="'", editor='emacsclient', 
pager='emacsclient', help.pager='emacsclient', show.error.locations\

Fedora fc27
GNU Emacs 25.3.1
with ESS 16.10
from Fedora packages:

In my .emacs file I have:

(require 'ess-site)

(setq ess-source-directory (lambda () (concat ess-directory "src/")))
(setq ess-dump-filename-template "%s.R")
(setq auto-mode-alist (append '(("\\.[Rr]t\\'" . R-transcript-mode))

 > sessionInfo()
  R version 3.4.2 (2017-09-28)
  Platform: x86_64-redhat-linux-gnu (64-bit)
  Running under: Fedora 27 (Workstation Edition)

  Matrix products: default
  BLAS/LAPACK: /usr/lib64/R/lib/libRblas.so

   [1] LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8       LC_NUMERIC=C
   [3] LC_TIME=en_US.UTF-8        LC_COLLATE=en_US.UTF-8
   [7] LC_PAPER=en_US.UTF-8       LC_NAME=C
   [9] LC_ADDRESS=C               LC_TELEPHONE=C

  attached base packages:
  [1] stats     graphics  grDevices utils     datasets  methods   base

  loaded via a namespace (and not attached):
  [1] compiler_3.4.2 tools_3.4.2


William D. McCoy
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003

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