[1] You should really add testing to your /etc/apt/sources.list and give it a default 'pin' of -1 so that it would never install from it -- unless you ask for it explicitly. Then say 'apt-get -t testing install r-base' and it will install r-base from testing, i.e. 1.8.1, with just its required libraries, leaving the rest of your system alone. As libraries are properly versioned, this is generally safe, and a trick that has been used by many, many users.

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