When trying to install packages in R that require compiling on one of my servers (that I did not have admin access to) I ran into the following error:
ERROR: 'configure' exists but is not executable -- see the 'R Installation and Administration Manual'
The problem here is that the temporary directory that R is clunking the files to be compiled does not have permissions set to execute. To fix this problem, I needed to do BOTH of the following (it doesn’t work without both)
1. Create a folder somewhere that you do have power to write/execute, etc.
mkdir /path/to/folder chmod 777 /path/to/folder
You can undo these permissions later if it makes you anxious.
2. Set the TMPDIR variable in your bash to this folder:
3. Start R, and install the library “unixtools” that will give you power to set the temporary directory:
Note that you can see the currently set temporary directory with tempdir(). Before changing it, it will look something like this:
4. Use unixtools to set this to a new directory:
library('unixtools') set.tempdir('/path/to/folder') tempdir()  "/path/to/folder";
Now you should be able to install packages that require compilation. At least, it worked for me!