Downgrade to R 3.5.0 in a dirty way, by using compiled ubuntu's (and debian) packages. Some R packages were compiled to 3.5.0, others with 3.5.0. BioC is 3.8.
ascend but installs a version with no EMSet, i.e. from running the workflow.py:
Error in EMSet(a, colInfo = meta, rowInfo = rowdat) : could not find function "EMSet" Execution halted