COMPILE: Compile Files for Use with R on Unix-alikes

Description Usage Arguments Details Note See Also


Compile given source files so that they can subsequently be collected into a shared object using R CMD SHLIB or an executable program using R CMD LINK. Not available on Windows.


R CMD COMPILE [options] srcfiles



A list of the names of source files to be compiled. Currently, C, C++, Objective C, Objective C++ and Fortran are supported; the corresponding files should have the extensions ‘.c’, ‘.cc’ (or ‘.cpp’), ‘.m’, ‘.mm’ (or ‘.M’), ‘.f’ and ‘.f90’ or ‘.f95’, respectively.


A list of compile-relevant settings, or for obtaining information about usage and version of the utility.


R CMD SHLIB can both compile and link files into a shared object: since it knows what run-time libraries are needed when passed C++, Fortran and Objective C(++) sources, passing source files to R CMD SHLIB is more reliable.

Objective C and Objective C++ support is optional and will work only if the corresponding compilers were available at R configure time: their main usage is on macOS.

Compilation arranges to include the paths to the R public C/C++ headers.

As this compiles code suitable for incorporation into a shared object, it generates PIC code: that might occasionally be undesirable for the main code of an executable program.

This is a make-based facility, so will not compile a source file if a newer corresponding ‘.o’ file is present.


Some binary distributions of R have COMPILE in a separate bundle, e.g. an R-devel RPM.

This is not available on Windows.

See Also

LINK, SHLIB, dyn.load; the section on “Customizing compilation under Unix” in “R Administration and Installation” (see the ‘doc/manual’ subdirectory of the R source tree).