tidyverse package install and "there is no package called ‘Rcpp’" error, any way to prevent this error

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Out of 370 students that I was teaching this term, 80 of them had the same problem. Even if they had installed tidyverse with install.packages("tidyverse", dependencies = TRUE), they received the error message:

there is no package called ‘Rcpp’

Yes, installing Rcpp would resolve the issue. But, it is a workaround in some sense. It is better if tidyverse development team looks into their code to eliminate this possibility (since it is not a remote possibility... >20% experienced it).

The 80 may be on OSX with outdated XCode and its command line tools is one possibility. Do you have a breakdown of Win/Apple in the class?

I double-checked this with Gabor, who had the following advice/response:

This is not a tidyverse issue. It is a problem with install.packages() and library() / loadNamespace(). It can happen to all packages that (recursively) depend on package that has compiled code and is loaded in some R session, at the time of the installation. It could also be just a download failure, which is also an install.packages() bug, because it should fail if a required package fails to download.


80 % of students are using an Apple computer. The majority of students who have experienced the issue are Mac users (out of 80 students, I would say, more than 70 are Mac users.). When a Windows user has an issue, he/she would have a permission issue.

I kind of thought so. I have a fair amount of heartburn on Mojave and its predecessors when having to compile. This happened the other day with an makefile with a by-now standard flag that Apple, for some reason, has decided not to expose.

Here's what I'd suggest to your Apple cohort:

  1. Upgrade to Mojave through the App Store, if they haven't already.
  2. From the App Store download the XCode App.
  3. From the terminal
$ xcode-select --install

The process can take up to a couple of hours, unfortunately, but should fix the Rcpp problem and many future compile problems.

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