I have been unsuccessfully trying to install the latest version (2.15.2) of r-base. Apparently, R package Rcpp would not install for R version 2.14.1 - the version that installs for me.

I am not sure what/how/where to change my installation attempts which appear below. Please note that I am using ubuntu-12.04.1-server-i386.

The current installed version is R version 2.14.1 (2011-12-22):

$ sudo apt-get install r-base
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
r-base is already the newest version.

Including version information doesn't help:

$ sudo apt-get install r-base=2.15.1-5ubuntu1
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
E: Version '2.15.1-5ubuntu1' for 'r-base' was not found

Changes based on CRAN Ubuntu instructions from http://cran.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu/README:

  1. Added to /etc/apt/sources.list

    deb http://lib.stat.cmu.edu/R/CRAN/bin/linux/ubuntu quantal/
  2. Update and install

    $ sudo apt-get update
    $ sudo apt-get install r-base
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree       
    Reading state information... Done
    Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
    requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
    distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
    or been moved out of Incoming.
    The following information may help to resolve the situation:
    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
     r-base : Depends: r-base-core (>= 2.15.2-1quantal2) but it is not going to be installed
              Depends: r-recommended (= 2.15.2-1quantal2) but it is not going to be installed
              Recommends: r-base-html but it is not going to be installed
    E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.
  • Have you tried sudo apt-get upgrade or sudo apt-get dist-upgrade?
    – Salem
    Nov 18, 2012 at 4:35
  • @Salem, thanks for your comment. Yes, I have tried "upgrade" but that doesn't upgrade "R" to its latest version.
    – Student
    Nov 19, 2012 at 16:46
  • If you need to check if R-base is indeed the 'latest' version, then install/update if not, see my answer, linked below. If you wish to stay current with the latest R releases, it's recommended that these come from sid (although you may wish to be cautious when basing your entire system on sid...). stackoverflow.com/questions/1401904/…
    – dardisco
    May 31, 2019 at 1:29

5 Answers 5


None of the above worked for me so I am copying the answer from https://stackoverflow.com/questions/16093331/how-to-install-r-version-3-0

Uninstall old R:

sudo apt-get remove r-base-core


sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://cran.rstudio.com/bin/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc)/"

Then copy/paste these commands into the command line:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys E298A3A825C0D65DFD57CBB651716619E084DAB9
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:marutter/rdev
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install r-base

Which worked for me

  • That also worked for me (12.04).
    – Ioannis
    Jun 13, 2014 at 13:03
  • I am using ubuntu 12.10 and it does not work. I still face the same issue
    – Arun Raja
    Nov 14, 2015 at 3:55
  • This post might be getting a little outdated. In general, remove your old R with rm -rf /usr/local/lib/R, download the latest tarball from r-project.org, extract it and follow the instructions in 'INSTALL' in the top-level directory
    – jaryaman
    Jan 6, 2016 at 11:11
  • 8
    Why do you uninstall before upgrading? Why do you need ppa:marutter/rdev? The rest should be enough, here's official documentation for Ubuntu repositories.
    – arekolek
    Feb 16, 2016 at 12:29
  • 1
    correct except current R repos append "-cran35" to LSB naming so you probably need to do something like sudo add-apt-repository "deb http://cran.rstudio.com/bin/linux/ubuntu $(lsb_release -sc)-cran35/"
    – 7yl4r
    Sep 30, 2019 at 18:13

Here's how I did it;

As already mentioned in the question, I went through the steps in UBUNTU PACKAGES FOR R instructions to add the repository, and did a apt-get update, and then

apt-cache showpkg r-base 

which would give something like

Package: r-base
3.0.2-1raring0 (/var/lib/apt/lists/cran.rstudio.com_bin_linux_ubuntu_raring_Packages)
 Description Language: 
                 File: /var/lib/apt/lists/cran.rstudio.com_bin_linux_ubuntu_raring_Packages
                  MD5: 5787ca79ed716232c4cc2087ed9b425b

3.0.1-6raring0 (/var/lib/apt/lists/cran.rstudio.com_bin_linux_ubuntu_raring_Packages)
 Description Language: 
                 File: /var/lib/apt/lists/cran.rstudio.com_bin_linux_ubuntu_raring_Packages
                  MD5: 5787ca79ed716232c4cc2087ed9b425b

and the I did a

 sudo apt-get install -f r-base=3.0.2-1raring0

and done.


open the terminal and type sudo -s. Then open source.list by typing:

gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

then, add these lines to the file:

deb http://cran.cnr.berkeley.edu/bin/linux/ubuntu quetzal/

then save& exit gedit. In the terminal type

gpg --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-key E298A3A825C0D65DFD57CBB651716619E084DAB9
gpg -a --export E298A3A825C0D65DFD57CBB651716619E084DAB9| sudo apt-key add -

then type


then type these commands --one line at a time--.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install r-base
sudo apt-get install r-base-dev
  • 2
    Why are you adding the line deb http://cran.cnr.berkeley.edu/bin/linux/ubuntu quetzal/ twice?
    – Cyrille
    Feb 24, 2016 at 19:49

In my system (without R installed) that versions installs correctly. So maybe the best option is to uninstall the old R and install the newer, passing the specific version you want. But before you do that, make a backup of your operating system. It can be difficult to reinstall old the packages after you remove them.

Also just a note: if you do sudo apt-get install r-base=2.15.1-5ubuntu1 it will not find a package because the version is wrong. In that repo, the files are named, for example r-base_2.15.2-1quantal2_all.deb, so the correct version should be r-base=2.15.2-1quantal2 or r-base=2.15.2-1quantal2_all, for example.

Hope this helps.


One thing I noticed, if you follow instructions on various R-websites, these will make you add a line to the Linux sources list /etc/apt/sources.list

See, for example, this link: https://www.r-bloggers.com/how-to-install-r-on-linux-ubuntu-16-04-xenial-xerus/

However, some Linux distros add a line to a separate file in this folder: /etc/apt/sources.list.d

This can lead to the you have held broken packages error message.

I commented-out the line (/etc/apt/sources.list) in /etc/apt/sources.list, and added the correct R-repository using the Software Sources manager of my distro (Linux Mint 18.3)

This solved the problem.

  • For me, the /etc/apt/sources.list file had the lines deb https://cloud.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu focal-cran40/ and deb https://cloud.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu bionic-cran40/. It worked once I commented out the focal-cran40 line.
    – Tom Logan
    Jun 20, 2021 at 9:45

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