[AstroPy] Deployment and packaging

Peter Erwin erwin at mpe.mpg.de
Thu Jun 16 06:47:25 EDT 2011

On Jun 16, 2011, at 3:30 AM, Matt Davis wrote:

> I can see that there seems to be substantial interest in producing an easy Python installation usable by astronomers. Something like EPD but free, or maybe like Python(x,y) for Windows. In fact, there's no reason something like that needs to be specific to astronomy. All the tools you list would be great for someone in geoscience, medicine, engineering, or many other fields. I think it would be fantastic if we could fill this need, but I don't think it's a need specific to astronomy and for that reason it should be a separate project from AstroPy (with substantial staff overlap, to be sure). I have worked in Earth sciences and they face the same challenges to Python adoption that astronomers do. And there is much to be gained by helping other fields join the Python fold, especially when it comes to things like handling large data sets, statistics, pipelines, parallel processing, imaging, etc.

Or vice-versa, even -- a little googling turns up a project called BioPython, which has apparently been operating
since ~ 2000 (where "bio" in this case appears to mean "bioinformatics", rather than some quixotic attempt to cover all of


Here's a somewhat recent (2009) overview of the package:

Those who are interested in Grand Unified Packages might look into how that's been done, or even
contact some of the folks behind BioPython to see if they have any wisdom to share.
(It looks, from my very brief inspection, as if they *don't* attempt to include their own Python
distribution, but instead provide links and notes for how to install Python.)

I'll confess I'm not sure why the standard Python distributions available at www.python.org
aren't considered valid "easy Python installations" -- at least for Mac and Windows machines. I know 
that the standard binary distributions of numpy, scipy, and matplotlib for Macs are designed to install
into the www.python.org Python distributions (and I assume the same is true for the Windows
binary versions of those packages). The www.python.org installations *are* the standard, up-to-date
versions, after all, and they have no peculiar license restrictions.

Is Linux, then, the main problem as far as "easy Python [+numpy/scipy/matplotlib] installations" go?

   -- Peter

Peter Erwin                   Max-Planck-Insitute for Extraterrestrial 
erwin at mpe.mpg.de              Physics, Giessenbachstrasse
tel. +49 (0)89 30000 3695     85748 Garching, Germany
fax  +49 (0)89 30000 3495     http://www.mpe.mpg.de/~erwin

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