RcppAPT: Rcpp Interface to APT Package Manager

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Debian and its derivatives like Ubuntu utilize a powerful package managing backend / frontend combination in APT (A Packaging Tool). Accessible at the command-line via front-ends apt, apt-get, apt-cache, … as well as numerous GUI variants, it is implemented using a library libapt-pkg. This small package provides R with access to this library via Rcpp.


We can query packages by regular expression:

R> library(RcppAPT)
R> getPackages("^r-base-.")

which returns a data frame with name, version (if installed) and section.

We can also check for installability of a given package or set of packages:

R> hasPackages(c("r-cran-rcpp", "r-cran-rcppapt"))
   r-cran-rcpp r-cran-rcppapt
          TRUE          FALSE

which shows that Rcpp is (of course) available, but this (very new) package is (unsurprisingly) not available pre-built.

Moreover, we can look at the package information of a given package. The buildDepends() function extracts just the build dependencies:

R> buildDepends("r-cran-rcppeigen")
[1] "debhelper"        "r-base-dev"       "cdbs"
[4] "r-cran-rcpp"      "r-cran-matrix"    "r-cran-pkgkitten"

The showSrc() and dumpPackages() functions display even more information.

We can also look at reverse dependencies:

R> reverseDepends("r-cran-rcpp$")
               package  version
1  r-cran-surveillance
2     r-cran-rquantlib   0.11.0
3      r-cran-reshape2
4        r-cran-readxl
5     r-cran-rcppeigen 0.11.0-1
6 r-cran-rcpparmadillo   0.11.0
7          r-cran-plyr
8         r-cran-minqa   0.11.0


The package is still fairly small, and functionality is (currently) limited to the examples shown above. It builds reliably on the supported systems.

But libapt-pkg is pretty mature, and feature-rich, so this package acts mostly as a wrapper from R.


The package is on CRAN so a very standard


will do. Make sure you install the libapt-pkg-dev package first as it is a build-dependency.

Versions of the package may also be available via drat via:



Dirk Eddelbuettel


GPL (>= 2)