I am not sure if this is the proper place for this question, so my apologies if it is not.

I want to switch from Windows to Ubuntu, or at least have an additional operating system next to windows. I have tried Ubuntu before but never really liked the text editors and R console I found. The main things I need to do is programming in R, compiling packages, compiling C++ (with Rcpp + inline) and writing LaTeX documents (with Sweave).

So I was wondering:

  • Is Ubuntu a good Linux distribution for statistical programming?
  • What is a good text editor for Ubuntu?
  • What is a good R console / IDE for Ubuntu?
  • What is a good LaTeX editor / distribution for Ubuntu
  • 1
    We might need more detail. Ubuntu is fine. What don't you like? I use Emacs/ESS. JGR, RStudio are available. Setting up LaTeX is trivially easy. – Ben Bolker May 23 '11 at 15:18
  • 1
    @Sacha : Yes, long flame-war, long flame-war and long flame-war. I'd check RStudio or Eclipse/StatET. @Dirk will tell you e-macs (and if you like to go through the steep learning curve, it might well pay off). Eclipse has Latex and Sweave support too. But I'm afraid this question will be closed soon... – Joris Meys May 23 '11 at 15:19
  • Thanks for migating, wasn't even aware of this SE site. All I really look for in a text editor is easy indenting and paranthese highlighting and line passing to R. On windows notepad++ does everything I want really. For LaTeX I like an editor that has some of the codes build in in dropdownmenus or whatever. – Sacha Epskamp May 23 '11 at 15:27
  • You'll typically get better answers if you split these into separate question posts. Thanks! – Firefeather Oct 19 '13 at 16:14
  1. Yes, though some people I know found switching from WinEdt a bit hard.
  2. I like gedit, the default text editor in Ubuntu, though there are a lot of other text editors that are also good. A matter of personal preference.
  3. Try RKWard in the Ubuntu Software centre.
  4. By searching in the Ubuntu software centre for "LaTeX" you will get some good results. I would try Texmaker.
  • 1
    Went with Gedit and texmaker. Emacs seems very useful but more of a long term goal to reach than something I have to use today:) Thanks. – Sacha Epskamp May 26 '11 at 9:10

In order:

  1. Yes, as the R packages are well maintained, and you get the CRAN builds of R so you are not even lagging behind.
  2. I like Emacs. (Also see dozens of posts at StackOverflow and other StackExchange sites on editor choice.)
  3. I like Emacs with ESS. (Dito for R editor choices.)
  4. I like Emacs with AucTex.

All snickering aside, many R Core members use the same combination of Emacs + ESS + AucTex.

Also, while learning Emacs is surely a good thing in the long run, there are many decent editors in Ubuntu that can be used for R, LaTeX and C++. Some folks seem to like Geany; I am sure you can find something suitable too.

  • 1
    Emacs is wonderful for R and LaTeX. The consistent highlighting of both source codes, the excellent error shortcuts, and the ability to never leave make it well worth the investment of time (not really that much time for the simple commands). The text movement commands alone have made me much more productive. – richiemorrisroe May 23 '11 at 15:48
  • 2
    +1 for emacs & ess. RStudio is also a good option now too. – Brandon Bertelsen May 23 '11 at 16:16
  • Thanks. I have installed Emacs/ESS/AucTex now. Is there a good guide on how to use it for R somewhere? – Sacha Epskamp May 23 '11 at 23:37
  • There are some old documents in the sources most of which are also in /usr/share/doc/ess/. I gave a short talk here at R User Group a few months ago, and ESS upstream then decided to reactivate some more documentation, but I believe that is only in the sources. So maybe fetch that tarball and poke around too, beyond of course the manual :) – Dirk Eddelbuettel May 24 '11 at 0:19

Here are my two cents:

  1. Yes. I'm a statistician and have been professionally using Linux-based Operating systems for almost a decade. There are GNU/Linux versions of all major statistical software such as SAS, SPSS, Stata and, of course, R, which feels right at home on Unix systems. Moreover, Linux distros tend to be less resource-hungry than their competitors, so you might even notice your programs run faster on GNU/Linux than on Windows or Mac.
  2. Emacs is really popular among power users, but for simple text editing I prefer LibreOffice Writer (especially when I'm working with Microsoft Word users).
  3. My favorite R IDE is RStudio (http://www.rstudio.com/), by a mile! It hasn't gone stable yet, and has a few annoying bugs, but nothing that would compromise the quality of your work. I find it very intuitive, and the fact that it's multi-platform really helps my workflow, since I also work on Microsoft and Apple machines.
  4. If you're using LaTeX with R, RStudio's got you covered! It allows you to write and compile pure LaTeX as well as LaTeX + Sweave or knitr. RStudio's LaTeX editor is decent, but if you're writing more complex texts and want something with more features (it's pretty easy to get lost inside long documents), I'd recommend Texmaker (http://www.xm1math.net/texmaker/); it probably has all the features you're asking for... and then some!
  • 1
    Thanks! When I wrote this post RStudio wasn't around yet I think, or at least not as good as it is now. I have been using RStudio mostly for a year now. For LaTeX it depends on if my document is more Sweave/knitr focused or text focused if I use RStudio or Gedit/Emacs respectively (Gedit and Emacs for inline spellcheck). – Sacha Epskamp Aug 20 '13 at 8:51

For Latex I like Texmaker. You can download it from the Software Center but it's outdated, so I recommend grabbing the lastest version from their website. Alternatively you could also take a look at Kile.

Regardless of the editor you choose, you need a Latex compiler like TexLive, it's also in the software center.

  • 1
    Kile is very nice and intuitive. Its great if you're just getting a handle on LaTeX. I wish I'd had it when I started. No highlighting of R code in Rnw files is a bit of a bummer though. – richiemorrisroe May 23 '11 at 19:13
  • @richiemorrisroe - Indeed, Kile is really nice, but unfortunately only for linux OS's. Since I work on Windows as well I prefer Texmaker since it's multi-platform. I forgot to mention it in my previous post, but Eclipse is a great IDE if you're looking for an all-in-one program. It support c++ by default and with the plugins StatET and Texclipse it support R and Tex too. – Bart May 23 '11 at 19:51

Kile might be my favourite LaTeX editor, although it has the downside of depending on about 40% of the KDE desktop. (This isn't really a big deal, but it does integrate better with Kubuntu than with Ubuntu.) Another downside is that you have to install TeXLive separately for some reason. A plus is that Kile integrates with JabRef, which makes BibTex management a snap.

My next choice is TexMaker. One of the nice things about TexMaker is that it has all the main LaTeX components as dependencies, so installing TexMaker also installs everything you're likely to need to compile your documents. (The only thing I've found missing in 3+ years was a font needed to use an Elsevier document class for a manuscript I was submitting - this was in an additional package.) No JabRef integration though.

If you're used to installing LaTeX + WinEdt on Windows (or TeXShop on a Mac) the install with TeXMaker is a pleasant surprise: Search for it in the Software Centre, click install, go grab a coffee, and you'll be ready to go when you get back. (or sudo apt-get install texmaker if you don't mind the command line.)

Both Kile and TexMaker handle larger projects with many input files well; Kile has a nice Quick Build in that it automatically runs (for example) PDFLaTeX + BibTeX + PDFLaTeX (x2) so that all the references are updated.

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