Chapter 2. Efficient Setup

An efficient computer setup is analogous to a well-tuned vehicle. Its components work in harmony. It is well serviced. It’s fast!

This chapter describes the setup that will enable a productive workflow. It explores how the operating system, R version, startup files, and IDE can make your R work faster. Understanding and at times changing these setup options can have many additional benefits. That’s why we cover them at this early stage (hardware is covered in Chapter 3). By the end of this chapter, you should understand how to set up your computer and R installation for optimal efficiency. It covers the following topics:

R and the operating systems

System monitoring on Linux, Mac, and Windows

R version

How to keep your base R installation and packages up-to-date

R start-up

How and why to adjust your .Rprofile and .Renviron files


An IDE to boost your programming productivity

BLAS and alternative R interpreters

Looks at ways to make R faster

Efficient programming is more than a series of tips: there is no substitute for in-depth understanding. However, to help remember the key messages buried among the details, each chapter from now on contains a Top Five Tips section after the pre-requisites.


Only one package needs to be installed to run the code in this chapter:


Top Five Tips for an Efficient R Setup

  1. Use system monitoring to identify bottlenecks in your hardware/code.

  2. Keep your R installation ...

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