[Distutils] numpy's distutils fork circa 2001

Robert Kern robert.kern at gmail.com
Fri Nov 30 17:21:20 CET 2012

On 30/11/2012 13:30, Chris Withers wrote:
> On 29/11/2012 23:00, Dag Sverre Seljebotn wrote:
>> But while I know the problem you mentioned has come up on the SciPy
>> list, it really is a trifle in this context. Having to remember to
>> install NumPy before SciPy is not what people have issues with.
>> The pain points SciPy deals with are just from a different world. I
>> think the most common problems are of the sort a) linking with the right
>> LAPACK in the right way, b) using Fortran compilers with distutils and
>> in particular combining various Fortran compilers with various C runtime
>> libraries on Windows.
>> Going beyond SciPy and just to provide another example, a non-trivial
>> number of scientific projects use Fortran and Cython and NumPy together;
>> that's basically unachievable with either distutils or numpy.distutils
>> or Cython.Distutils (so one uses an actual build tool such as CMake or
>> scons of waf instead; distutils doesn't really qualify (or was meant to
>> be) a build tool after all).
> I wonder if this is where the wheel format fits in? If I understand, it lets you
> use build tools to do the build, and then wheel is just the distribution format.

Not much. Like you said, it's just the distribution format. It doesn't "let" you 
use build tools to do the so much as not be involved in that process at all.

What's more on target is a common command that will build any conforming Python 
package from source, but letting it defer to other build tools to do the actual 
build. Wheels are probably the best standard for the end result of that process, 
but eggs or even just bdist_dumb are good enough for most cases. I don't really 
recall if distutils2's pysetup command quite gets us this far, but it's on the 
right track.

Robert Kern

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma
  that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had
  an underlying truth."
   -- Umberto Eco

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