Package 'littler'

Title: R at the Command-Line via 'r'
Description: A scripting and command-line front-end is provided by 'r' (aka 'littler') as a lightweight binary wrapper around the GNU R language and environment for statistical computing and graphics. While R can be used in batch mode, the r binary adds full support for both 'shebang'-style scripting (i.e. using a hash-mark-exclamation-path expression as the first line in scripts) as well as command-line use in standard Unix pipelines. In other words, r provides the R language without the environment.
Authors: Dirk Eddelbuettel and Jeff Horner (2006-2008)
Maintainer: Dirk Eddelbuettel <[email protected]>
License: GPL (>= 2)
Built: 2024-07-05 08:26:15 UTC

Help Index

Command-line and scripting front-end for R


The r binary provides a convenient and powerful front-end. By embedding R, it permits four distinct ways to leverage the power of R at the shell prompt: scripting, filename execution, piping and direct expression evaluation.


The r front-end was written with four distinct usage modes in mind.

First, it allow to write so-called ‘shebang’ scripts starting with #!/usr/bin/env r. These ‘shebang’ scripts are perfectly suited for automation and execution via e.g. via cron.

Second, we can use r somefile.R to quickly execute the name R source file. This is useful as r is both easy to type—and quicker to start that either R itself, or its scripting tool Rscript, while still loading the methods package.

Third, r can be used in ‘pipes’ which are very common in Unix. A simple and trivial example is echo 'cat(2+2)' | r illustrating that the standard output of one program can be used as the standard input of another program.

Fourth, r can be used as a calculator by supplying expressions after the -e or --eval options.


Common with other shell tools and programs, r returns its exit code where a value of zero indicates success.


On OS X one may have to link the binary to, say, lr instead. As OS X insists that files named R and r are the same, we cannot use the latter.


Jeff Horner and Dirk Eddelbuettel wrote littler from 2006 to today, with contributions from several others.

Dirk Eddelbuettel [email protected] is the maintainer.


## Not run: 
  #!/usr/bin/env r              ## for use in scripts

  other input | r               ## for use in pipes

  r somefile.R                  ## for running files

  r -e 'expr'                   ## for evaluating expressions

  r --help                      ## to show a quick synopsis
## End(Not run)

Return Path to r Binary


Return the path of the install r binary.


r(usecat = FALSE)



Optional toggle to request output to stdout (useful in Makefiles)


The test for Windows is of course superfluous as we have no binary for Windows. Maybe one day...


The path is returned as character variable. If the usecat option is set the character variable is displayed via cat instead.


Dirk Eddelbuettel