I just installed Ubuntu 18.04 on my testbed laptop. Total fresh install (chose the 'minimal' option). The first two things I did were install R 3.5 and R Studio 1.1.453. If I open up a fresh install of R and just let it sit idle for 30 minutes or so I eventually get the error "Error: Unable to establish connection with R session".

At this point in time I can't do anything in R Studio and I have to xkill it and reload everything to continue programming. An internet search reveals that this issue has been popping up repeatedly since people have been installing R/R Studio on Ubuntu machines that use GNOME. Am not sure if GNOME is the root cause but it's interesting.

Anybody solved this? Or maybe you run R 3.5 fine on Ubuntu 18.04 without issue. Please let me know. I can only run for 30 minutes or so before this issue brings my system down. And my system is a fresh install of Bionic Beaver with just R on it. Weird.

------ and for those wondering ------

installation for R was via

sudo add-apt-repository "deb https://cloud.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu bionic-cran35/"
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys E084DAB9
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install r-base r-base-dev

and R Studio was installed via this link through the Ubuntu software center https://download1.rstudio.org/rstudio-xenial-1.1.453-amd64.deb

and it is speculated that the preview release of R Studio may fix this (TBD) https://s3.amazonaws.com/rstudio-ide-build/desktop/trusty/amd64/rstudio-1.2.792-amd64.deb

  • R in Ubuntu 18.04 currently is at version 3.4.4. You likely installed from another source?
    – vanadium
    Jul 16, 2018 at 17:04
  • @vanadium I installed from here cran.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu/bionic-cran35 using sudo add-apt-repository "deb https://cloud.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu bionic-cran35/" then sudo apt-get install r-base r-base-dev. I installed the keys as well prior. Jul 16, 2018 at 17:31
  • 2
    OK, please add to your question because this is essential information. My version from the standard Ubuntu PPA works fine. Also indicate how you installed R studio.
    – vanadium
    Jul 16, 2018 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Currently CRAN mirror provides R 3.6 by default.

To get R 3.5 on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS we need to add CRAN repository with:

sudo add-apt-repository "deb https://cloud.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu bionic-cran35/"
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys E084DAB9
sudo apt-get update

and then adjust APT to the highest priority of R 3.5.x versions for the CRAN repository with long single command:

cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/apt/preferences.d/pin-r35
Package: r-*
Pin: release a=bionic-cran35
Pin: version 3.5*
Pin-Priority: 800

Package: r-cran-nlme
Pin: release a=bionic-cran35
Pin: version 3.1.139-1bionic0
Pin-Priority: 800

Package: r-cran-cluster
Pin: release a=bionic-cran35
Pin: version 2.0.8-1bionic0
Pin-Priority: 800

Then install R 3.5 with the command below:

sudo apt-get install r-base r-base-dev

And finally check that R version is 3.5:

$ R

R version 3.5.3 (2019-03-11) -- "Great Truth"


  1. I have checked this method on clean Ubuntu 18.04 LTS VM with two essential R packages installed - r-base and r-base-dev (and their dependencies).
  2. If you want to revert to R 3.6 - then simply remove pin/lock file with sudo rm /etc/apt/preferences.d/pin-r35 and run sudo apt-get dist-upgrade to get the newest dependencies.
  3. For Ubuntu 16.04 LTS the method is very similar - see my other answer.
  • I ended up installing the preview version 1.2.792 of R Studio and the issue has gone away. rstudio.com/products/rstudio/download/preview Jul 18, 2018 at 12:40
  • 1
    To solve "depends on r-recommended (= 3.5.3-1bionic) but it is not going to be installed" with the instructions above I needed to add "Package: r-cran-cluster Pin: release a=bionic-cran35 Pin: version 2.0.8-1bionic0 Pin-Priority: 800"
    – krassowski
    Jul 16, 2019 at 15:05
  • @krassowski thank you very much! I approved your edit.
    – N0rbert
    Jul 16, 2019 at 20:21

I think that I did follow your steps. I "cleaned" my system to the best of my abilities (as previously described; see below) and then did

sudo apt-get install r-base

This seemed (as I previously said on the Ubuntu Mate Community list, from which you told me to switch the discussion to this location) to run without complaint, but produced no executable.

I tried

dpkg -l | grep "^ii -r"

just now, following your example, and got no output whatever. So it would seem that "dpkg" thinks that r-base has not been installed.

But the output from "sudo apt-get install r-base" seems to say that it has been installed. What is going on?

Added: I have solved the problem. Elsewhere it was suggested to me that I try doing

dpkg -l r-base-core

This produced the enlightening output:

| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-  pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name             Version       Architecture  Description
ii  r-base-core      3.5.2-1bionic amd64         GNU R core of statistical computation

The nature of the message prompted me to try

sudo apt purge r-base-core

which ran and said that it was removing a whole lot of stuff.

I then tried

 sudo apt-get install r-base-core

which ran and gave a whole lot more output than was previously produced when I ran "sudo apt-get install r-base". (Note: I had been typing r-base and NOT r-base-core.) It indicated that it was doing lots of stuff that looked promising in respect of actually installing R.

And in fact the promise was fulfilled. I then started R and got:

R version 3.5.2 (2018-12-20) -- "Eggshell Igloo"
Copyright (C) 2018 The R Foundation for Statistical Computing
Platform: x86_64-pc-linux-gnu (64-bit)


The problem may have been that previously I had been saying

"sudo apt-get install r-base" rather than

"sudo apt-get install r-base-core".

It is possible that the latter is needed if R has previously been installed from source, but otherwise just "r-base" is sufficient. I am not sufficiently knowledgeable to say. Others may be able to provide insight.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.