R at the Command-Line via 'r'

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.

A scripting and command-line front-end for GNU R permitting use of R in command-line contexts.

So What Is It For?

#!/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


Plenty. See the examples vignette for a full set of introductory examples. Also see the examples/ directory for a full 28 example scripts, as well as maybe the older tests directory both of which are installed with the package.

Some scripts I uses daily or near daily (in alphabetical order):

build.r                                ## builds from the current directory
c4c.r                                  ## submits current directory to winbuilder
compAttr.r                             ## run compileAttributes() for a Rcpp package
dratInstert.r 1.2-3.tar.gz -r /srv     ## inserts package into drat repo
install.r abc def                      ## installs packages abc and def
install.r abc_1.2-3.tar.gz             ## installs given tarball
install2.r -l /tmp/lib abc def         ## installs abc and def into /tmp/lib
rcc.r abc_1.2-3.tar.gz                 ## run's R CMD check via Gabor's rcmdcheck
render.r foo.Rmd                       ## calls rmarkdown::render()
roxy.r                                 ## run roxyenize() for a package (only Rd creation)
update.r                               ## updates any currently installed packages 


Version 0.3.0 or later

The package resides on the CRAN network and can be installed via


Previous Versions up to 0.2.3

In general, simply running the script bootstrap will configure and build the executable. Running make install (possibly as sudo make install) will install the resulting binary.

On Linux systems, ensure you have the autotools-dev package (or its equivalent on non-Debian/Ubuntu systems). On OS X, you may need to run brew install automake autoconf to get all the tools.

Alternate Naming

On some operating systems such as OS X, r is not different from R. As this risk confusing the main binary R for the R system with our smaller scripting frontend r, we suggest to consider running configure --program-prefix="l" which this leads to installation of a binary lr instead of r.

Alternate R Version

As littler uses autoconf its AC_PATH_PROG() macro to find R, one can simply adjust the PATH when calling configure (or, rather, bootstrap) to have another version of R used. For example, on a server with R-devel in this location, the following builds littler using this R-devel version: PATH="/usr/local/lib/R-devel/bin/:$PATH" ./bootstrap.

More Information

For more information about littler, please see

(but note that the latter now overlaps with the example vignette).


Jeff Horner (2006 to 2008) and Dirk Eddelbuettel (since 2006)


GPL (>= 2)


Reference manual

It appears you don't have a PDF plugin for this browser. You can click here to download the reference manual.


0.3.13 by Dirk Eddelbuettel, 2 months ago

https://github.com/eddelbuettel/littler, https://dirk.eddelbuettel.com/code/littler.html

Report a bug at https://github.com/eddelbuettel/littler/issues

Browse source code at https://github.com/cran/littler

Authors: Dirk Eddelbuettel and Jeff Horner

Documentation:   PDF Manual  

GPL (>= 2) license

Suggests knitr, rmarkdown, minidown, docopt, rcmdcheck, foghorn

System requirements: libR

See at CRAN