I am going to avoid getting myself into the middle of most of this,

(I left my flame proof pants at home and I've already managed to get sucked into a discussion of EMACS v Vim in this thread.)

but I should not that help.start() is a local function. It does not (on my Linux box) reach out to R on the interwebs. It will work just fine locally. I show it as being located at:

http://127.0.0.1:15801/doc/html/index.html

IIRC, Newish versions of R include an embedded web-server. I don't know which web-server and it only starts if you do the help.start(), AFAIK.