[Distutils] Handling the binary dependency management problem

Oscar Benjamin oscar.j.benjamin at gmail.com
Wed Dec 4 11:41:41 CET 2013

On 4 December 2013 07:40, Ralf Gommers <ralf.gommers at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 1:54 AM, Donald Stufft <donald at stufft.io> wrote:
>> I’d love to get Wheels to the point they are more suitable then they are
>> for SciPy stuff,
> That would indeed be a good step forward. I'm interested to try to help get
> to that point for Numpy and Scipy.

Thanks Ralf. Please let me know what you think of the following.

>> I’m not sure what the diff between the current state and what
>> they need to be are but if someone spells it out (I’ve only just skimmed
>> your last email so perhaps it’s contained in that!) I’ll do the arguing
>> for it. I
>> just need someone who actually knows what’s needed to advise me :)
> To start with, the SSE stuff. Numpy and scipy are distributed as "superpack"
> installers for Windows containing three full builds: no SSE, SSE2 and SSE3.
> Plus a script that runs at install time to check which version to use. These
> are built with ``paver bdist_superpack``, see
> https://github.com/numpy/numpy/blob/master/pavement.py#L224. The NSIS and
> CPU selector scripts are under tools/win32build/.
> How do I package those three builds into wheels and get the right one
> installed by ``pip install numpy``?

This was discussed previously on this list:

Essentially the current wheel format and specification does not
provide a way to do this directly. There are several different
possible approaches.

One possibility is that the wheel spec can be updated to include a
post-install script (I believe this will happen eventually - someone
correct me if I'm wrong). Then the numpy for Windows wheel can just do
the same as the superpack installer: ship all variants, then
delete/rename in a post-install script so that the correct variant is
in place after install.

Another possibility is that the pip/wheel/PyPI/metadata system can be
changed to allow a "variant" field for wheels/sdists. This was also
suggested in the same thread by Nick Coghlan:

The variant field could be used to upload multiple variants e.g.
then if the user requests 'numpy:sse3' they will get the wheel with
sse3 support.

Of course how would the user know if their CPU supports SSE3? I know
roughly what SSE is but I don't know what level of SSE is avilable on
each of the machines I use. There is a Python script/module in
numpexpr that can detect this:

When I run that script on this machine I get:
$ python cpuinfo.py
CPU information: CPUInfoBase__get_nbits=32 getNCPUs=2 has_mmx has_sse2
is_32bit is_Core2 is_Intel is_i686

So perhaps someone could break that script out of numexpr and release
it as a separate package on PyPI. Then the instructions for installing
numpy could be something like
You can install numpy with

    $pip install numpy

which will download the default version without any CPU-specific optimisations.

If you know what level of SSE support your CPU has then you can
download a more optimised numpy with either of:

    $ pip install numpy:sse2
    $ pip install numpy:sse3

To determine whether or not your CPU has SSE2 or SSE3 or no SSE
support you can install and run the cpuinfo script. For example on
this machine:

    $ pip install cpuinfo
    $ python -m cpuinfo --sse
    This CPU supports the SSE3 instruction set.

That means we can install numpy:sse3.

Of course it would be a shame to have a solution that is so close to
automatic without quite being automatic. Also the problem is that
having no SSE support in the default numpy means that lots of people
would lose out on optimisations. For example if numpy is installed as
a dependency of something else then the user would always end up with
the unoptimised no-SSE binary.

Another possibility is that numpy could depend on the cpuinfo package
so that it gets installed automatically before numpy. Then if the
cpuinfo package has a traditional setup.py sdist (not a wheel) it
could detect the CPU information at install time and store that in its
package metadata. Then pip would be aware of this metadata and could
use it to determine which wheel is appropriate.

I don't quite know if this would work but perhaps the cpuinfo could
announce that it "Provides" e.g. cpuinfo:sse2. Then a numpy wheel
could "Requires" cpuinfo:sse2 or something along these lines. Or
perhaps this is better handled by the metadata extensions Nick
suggested earlier in this thread.

I think it would be good to work out a way of doing this with e.g. a
cpuinfo package. Many other packages beyond numpy could make good use
of that metadata if it were available. Similarly having an extensible
mechanism for selecting wheels based on additional information about
the user's system could be used for many more things than just CPU


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