Running R GUI on Google Compute

I wanted to run R GUIs ( rattle, Rcmdr, Deducer) on my Google Compute Instance, but didnt know how to figure out how to enable x11.

Initially I just tried to enable x11 forwarding in the local ssh (Ubuntu) and remote sshd( GCE), but it still needed some more.

Note I use gedit to edit files locally ( since it is easier) and vi to edit files remotely ( because I didnt have a graphical environment there yet) . I used vi help from the link here  (basically sudo vi filename opens the file in Linux, you scroll down and press Insert to write your changes, then hit escape, then write this to save and quit :qw ( or :q! to NOT save and quit), your mouse is quite useless and the arrow keys dont help much in vi- I assure you that)

/etc/ssh_config or ~/.ssh/config
ForwardX11 yes

restarted local ssh

X11Forwarding yes

restarted remote sshd

Well this is how it is done- following is a copy and paste from actual discussion-

here are two steps you have to do in order to run X-windows applications on your instance.

1) You have to install some X-windows applications on your instance.  I used the command
sudo apt-get install xterm
which works on Ubuntu.  On Centos, you would use the command
yum install xterm
but I didn’t test that.
2) You have to create an X-windows tunnel through SSH.  You do that with the -X switch to the gcutil ssh command:
 gcutil ssh –ssh_arg -X INSTANCE
When you login to the instance, verify that the tunnel is in place.
$rman@test-pd:~$ echo $DISPLAY
By way of contrast, this is what it looks like if the tunnel didn’t work:
rman@test-pd:~$ echo $DISPLAY

Hat Tip- gce discussion group on google groups!forum/gce-discussion  and Jeff Silverman from the GCE team.

Interviews and Reviews: More R #rstats

I got interviewed on moving on from Excel to R in Human Resources (HR) here at

“There is a lot of data out there and it’s stored in different formats. Spreadsheets have their uses but they’re limited in what they can do. The spreadsheet is bad when getting over 5000 or 10000 rows – it slows down. It’s just not designed for that. It was designed for much higher levels of interaction.

In the business world we really don’t need to know every row of data, we need to summarise it, we need to visualise it and put it into a powerpoint to show to colleagues or clients.”

And a more recent interview with my fellow IIML mate, and editor at Analytics India Magazine

AIM: Which R packages do you use the most and which ones are your favorites?

AO: I use R Commander and Rattle a lot, and I use the dependent packages. I use car for regression, and forecast for time series, and many packages for specific graphs. I have not mastered ggplot though but I do use it sometimes. Overall I am waiting for Hadley Wickham to come up with an updated book to his ecosystem of packages as they are very formidable, completely comprehensive and easy to use in my opinion, so much I can get by the occasional copy and paste code.


A surprising review at R- /Intelligent Trading

The good news is that many of the large companies do not view R as a threat, but as a beneficial tool to assist their own software capabilities.

After assisting and helping R users navigate through the dense forest of various GUI interface choices (in order to get R up and running), Mr. Ohri continues to handhold users through step by step approaches (with detailed screen captures) to run R from various simple to more advanced platforms (e.g. CLOUD, EC2) in order to gather, explore, and process data, with detailed illustrations on how to use R’s powerful graphing capabilities on the back-end.

Do you want to write a review too? You can visit the site here


JSS launches special edition for GUI for #Rstats

I love GUIs (graphical user interfaces)- they might be TCL/TK based or GTK based or even QT based. As a researcher they help me with faster coding, as a consultant they help with faster transition of projects from startup to handover stage  and as an R  instructor helps me get people to learn R faster.

I wish Python had some GUIs though ;)


from the open access journal of statistical software-

JSS Special Volume 49: Graphical User Interfaces for R

Graphical User Interfaces for R
Pedro M. Valero-Mora, Ruben Ledesma
Vol. 49, Issue 1, Jun 2012
Submitted 2012-06-03, Accepted 2012-06-03
Integrated Degradation Models in R Using iDEMO
Ya-Shan Cheng, Chien-Yu Peng
Vol. 49, Issue 2, Jun 2012
Submitted 2010-12-31, Accepted 2011-06-29
Glotaran: A Java-Based Graphical User Interface for the R Package TIMP
Joris J. Snellenburg, Sergey Laptenok, Ralf Seger, Katharine M. Mullen, Ivo H. M. van Stokkum
Vol. 49, Issue 3, Jun 2012
Submitted 2011-01-20, Accepted 2011-09-16
A Graphical User Interface for R in a Rich Client Platform for Ecological Modeling
Marcel Austenfeld, Wolfram Beyschlag
Vol. 49, Issue 4, Jun 2012
Submitted 2011-01-05, Accepted 2012-02-20
Closing the Gap between Methodologists and End-Users: R as a Computational Back-End
Byron C. Wallace, Issa J. Dahabreh, Thomas A. Trikalinos, Joseph Lau, Paul Trow, Christopher H. Schmid
Vol. 49, Issue 5, Jun 2012
Submitted 2010-11-01, Accepted 2012-12-20
tourrGui: A gWidgets GUI for the Tour to Explore High-Dimensional Data Using Low-Dimensional Projections
Bei Huang, Dianne Cook, Hadley Wickham
Vol. 49, Issue 6, Jun 2012
Submitted 2011-01-20, Accepted 2012-04-16
The RcmdrPlugin.survival Package: Extending the R Commander Interface to Survival Analysis
John Fox, Marilia S. Carvalho
Vol. 49, Issue 7, Jun 2012
Submitted 2010-12-26, Accepted 2011-12-28
Deducer: A Data Analysis GUI for R
Ian Fellows
Vol. 49, Issue 8, Jun 2012
Submitted 2011-02-28, Accepted 2011-09-08
RKWard: A Comprehensive Graphical User Interface and Integrated Development Environment for Statistical Analysis with R
Stefan Rödiger, Thomas Friedrichsmeier, Prasenjit Kapat, Meik Michalke
Vol. 49, Issue 9, Jun 2012
Submitted 2010-12-28, Accepted 2011-05-06
gWidgetsWWW: Creating Interactive Web Pages within R
John Verzani
Vol. 49, Issue 10, Jun 2012
Submitted 2010-12-17, Accepted 2011-05-11
Oscars and Interfaces
Antony Unwin
Vol. 49, Issue 11, Jun 2012
Submitted 2010-12-08, Accepted 2011-07-15