As of version 12.1, R is an officially supported external language, however, I can't seem to install any packages. I tried using my RStudio:

R = StartExternalSession[<|"System"->"R", 
ExternalEvaluate[R, "install.packages('rjson')"]

enter image description here


  • Running MMA v12.1 on MacOS 10.15.3
  • I've first tried installing libs with the bundled R executable but no luck: Mathematica.app/Contents/SystemFiles/Links/RLink/Java/REngine.jar
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ExternalEvaluate for R is based on RLink, so "Executable" parameter is ignored. Right now there is no way documented way for ExternalEvaluate to pick a user-defined version of R. Further, the currently bundled version of R is almost 8 years old (2.14) and lacks the ability to install packages. I am working on improving this situation as we speak, since finally I've got some chunk of time to spend on RLink. We will start bundling R 3.6.2 / 3.6.3 soon (couple of weeks from now). Package installation for bundled R is a harder problem (except on Windows), but I will see what I can do there. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2020 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ In 12.2 I am sure ExternalEvaluate will have an option to pick your own R installation. It is not clear if we can manage to get that into 12.1.1 release (which will be mostly a bug-fix release), but we'll see. I will post an answer here as soon as there will be enough progress on this. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2020 at 8:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LeonidShifrin when is the target release date for 12.1.1? And since now you guys have a paclet system in 12.1, can't you remotely update the existing installation of 12.1 rather than bundling fixes as a new release? Also please excuse my ignorance of the paclet system as I don't know whether it is capable of remotely updating parts of an existing installation, like PacletInstall["RLink"] and PacletInstall["ExternalEvaluate"]. $\endgroup$
    – user13892
    Mar 19, 2020 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @user13892 For 12.1.1. I don't yet know the exact time frame, but it should be soon enough (I'd guess 4 - 6 weeks from now). RLink and bundled R I plan to paclet-update much sooner (hopefully, couple of weeks), and then indeed it should be just picked up. For ExternalEvaluate, I can't tell, since I am not a developer for it, but as I said, we will try to squeeze it in 12.1.1 (not sure if we could do that sooner for it). If I manage to solve the issue of package installation for bundled R, then that might be good enough for now, but that's a big if. I will post news here once I have it. $\endgroup$ Mar 19, 2020 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ @LeonidShifrin The bundled R is 8 years old!?! I can’t believe this, I was so excited to use external evaluation features with R, but now I can’t... :( Please please update this to at least version 3.4 if you can soon, would be much appreciated! $\endgroup$
    – user5601
    Mar 19, 2020 at 18:54

1 Answer 1


I was able to follow Leonid Shifrin's directions here for Mathematica 12.2 and R 4.0 running on Mac OS X 10.15.7. (I verified that R packages installed by me are accessible through RLink.) See the attached screenshot.


  "RHomeLocation" -> 
  "RVersion" -> "4.0", 
  "NativeLibLocation" -> 

ExternalEvaluate["R", "R.Version()"]

(* RObject[{{"x86_64-apple-darwin17.0"}, {"x86_64"}, \
{"darwin17.0"}, {"x86_64, darwin17.0"}, {""}, {"4"}, {"0.3"}, \
{"2020"}, {"10"}, {"10"}, {"79318"}, {"R"}, {"R version 4.0.3 \
(2020-10-10)"}, {"Bunny-Wunnies Freak Out"}}, 
  "names" :> {"platform", "arch", "os", "system", "status", "major", 
    "minor", "year", "month", "day", "svn rev", "language", 
    "version.string", "nickname"}]] *)

enter image description here


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