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Running gretl over a network

In some settings it may be necessary or desirable to have users run gretl over a network. For example, the gretl executable resides on a server in a computer lab, and users access the program from PCs that do not themselves have gretl installed.

In this context the usual mechanism whereby the Windows version of gretl gets its configuration information, namely reading from the Windows registry on the local machine, will not work. Since gretl is not installed on the local machine, no relevant registry entries will be found (and the default values will be inappropriate).

To meet this situation, gretl (version 1.2.1 or higher) offers a special configuration option: If a plain text configuration file named gretlnet.txt is found in the same directory as the gretl executable, gretlw32.exe, this file will be read in preference to the local registry. Configuration options found in gretlnet.txt will override the local registry, and will appear as fixed from the user's point of view (the corresponding items in the gretl preferences dialog will show as "grayed out" or insensitive). For this to work (i.e. for gretl to find the special config file), gretl must be invoked on the client machine using the full path to the installed binary, e.g. L:\userdata\gretl\gretlw32.exe.

A network administrator using this facility should consider which of gretl's options need to be set centrally, and which can be left up to the local user. If an option should be up to the user, it should not be set in gretlnet.txt. Typically, one might expect that path settings should be made centrally, while boolean options may be left to the user. (Note that unlike paths, the boolean options will be given appropriate default values even if no gretl entries can be read from the local registry on start-up of the program.)

There follows an annotated example of gretlnet.txt. The format of this plain text file should be self-explanatory. Lines beginning with a hash mark (#) are comments. Actual configuration lines take the form key = value (the single spaces around the equals sign are mandatory). The example below is based on these assumptions:

You can edit this file in any text editor (e.g. Windows notepad). If your setup differs in respect of the drive letter for the network installation, replace L: throughout. If gretl was installed in (say) c:\Program Files on the server, then replace L:\userdata with L:\Program Files throughout. Items with embedded spaces (e.g. "Progam Files") will be handled correctly as is, do not wrap them in quotes. You can grab a copy of the example with DOS-style line-termination here: gretlnet.txt.

# gretlnet.txt: gretl network config file for Windows

# Main gretl directory on server (users do not need write permission)
gretldir = L:\userdata\gretl

# User's gretl directory (users must have permission to write
# to this dir -- it will be created if it does not exist)
userdir = C:\userdata\gretl

# Command to launch GNU R (optional)
Rcommand = RGui.exe

# Command to view DVI files (optional)
viewdvi = windvi.exe

# Calculator (optional)
calculator = calc.exe

# path to x12arima (optional)
x12a = L:\userdata\x12arima\x12a.exe

# path to tramo (optional)
tramo = L:\userdata\tramo\tramo.exe

# gretl database directory (write permission not needed)
binbase = L:\userdata\gretl\db

# RATS data directory (write permission not needed)
ratsbase = L:\userdata\rats

# Database server (should be left alone)
dbhost = ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu

# HTTP proxy (ipnumber:port)
# Change "useproxy" to "true" and set this if you're behind a firewall
dbproxy = 

# Use HTTP proxy (see previous entry)
useproxy = false

# Fixed (monospaced) font
Fixed_font = Courier New 10

# Menu font
App_font = Tahoma 8

# PNG graph font
Png_font = verdana 8

# Boolean options below can probably be left to default.
# The default values are shown, commented out; you may 
# uncomment and set these if you wish.

# Tell user about gretl updates?
# updater = false

# Use locale setting for decimal point?
# lcnumeric = true

# Use current working directory as default?
# usecwd = false

# Emulate Windows look?
# wimp = false

# Allow shell commands in gretl scripts?
# shellok = false