Setup Shiny Server on Ubuntu 16.04

I have written two blogs recording my experience of installing shiny-server on Ubuntu 12.04 & 14.04, now it’s the turn of Ubuntu 16.04. There is a little difference, just for memory.

Update system (not mandatory)

sudo apt-get update

And upgrade the server, which will make sure install the latest version of R.

sudo apt-get upgrade

Install R and shiny package

Before installing Shiny Server, we need to install R and the Shiny package first.

  • To install the latest version of R, we need to add the CRAN repository to our system’s sources list: /etc/apt/sources.list.
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Add deb xenial/ to its end, and save the modification. Where is the CRAN mirror for Norway (so you may need to change it to the mirror suitable for you) and xenial is the version name for Ubuntu 16.04.

  • Install R using the following command:
sudo apt-get install -y r-base

This process would take one minute.

  • Install the **Shiny R package**
sudo su - -c "R -e \"install.packages('shiny', repos='')\""

This process could take one and half minute, because many dependent packages were also installed.

  • Install Shiny Server
sudo apt-get install -y gdebi-core
sudo gdebi shiny-server-

This process could take one and half minute. By default, Shiny Server will run automatically after installation, you will see a welcome page on port 3838 of your server’s IP address, e.g. “”

Installation of Shiny Server finished!

Install R packages.

  • Before starting to install R packages using install.packages() under R, we need to install several dependencies or environment first.
sudo apt-get install -y libcurl4-openssl-dev  libssl-dev libxml2-dev libcairo-dev

where libcurl4-openssl-dev may needed in installing R package “RCurl”, libssl-dev may needed in installing R package “devtools”, and libxml2-dev may needed in installing R package “XML”.

  • Install Java used by R package rJava and add a system environment variable LDLIBRARYPATH.
sudo apt-get install -y default-jdk
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-amd64/jre/lib/amd64/server/
sudo R CMD javareconf  
  • Setup default path of R packages to be installed When install R packages, I suggest to install them at “/usr/local/lib/R/site-library”. However, the default library path is not that one, but is, like: /home/usrname/R/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-library/3.2/. If you use this one as the default, you may encouter problem when you open a shiny-app: ERROR: An error has occurred. Check your logs or contact the app author for clarification. or Disconnected from Server or HTTP 500 Internal Server Error. That’s because shiny-server can’t load libraries from the above path. We can change /usr/lib/R/etc/Renviron to set it as the default one by commentting the line: **R_LIBS_USER=${R_LIBS_USER-‘~/R/x86_64-pc-linux-gnu-library/3.2’} **
sudo nano /usr/lib/R/etc/Renviron

Now, let’s check the default library path in R:

Note: another reason when you see HTTP 500 Internal Server Error may be that some packages needed in the shiny app were not installed.

> .libPaths()
[1] "/usr/local/lib/R/site-library" "/usr/lib/R/site-library"
[3] "/usr/lib/R/library"

By default, path “/usr/local/lib/R/site-library” is not allowed to write in from RStudio, we need to change the access permission like the following:

sudo chmod 777 /usr/local/lib/R/site-library
  • Install the following R packages
install.packages(c('RJDBC', 'XLConnect', 'devtools', 'RJSONIO', 'sp', 'png', 'pixmap', 'mapdata', 'maptools', 'maps', 'rgeos'))
install_github('rCharts', 'ramnathv')

Install RStudio Server

sudo gdebi rstudio-server-0.99.903-i386.deb

The RStudio-server will run on port 8787 of your server’s IP address. Use your user name and password to log onto it.

Note to myself: to make sure all my leaflet shiny apps work, copy the “rCharts/leaflet” to replace the one installed, and change the ownship to same as other libraries, so that those files can be visited by www-data users.

Written on October 25, 2016