[Numpy-discussion] Meta: too many numerical libraries doing the same thing?

Joe Harrington jh at oobleck.astro.cornell.edu
Thu Dec 6 15:34:02 EST 2001

Sorry for the late hit, I have been away at a conference.

Regarding the issue of SciPy including a Python interpreter and being
a complete distribution, I think this is a *poor* idea.  Most Linux
distributions include Python for OS use.  I ran into trouble when I
supported a separate Python for science use.  There was confusion
(path issues, etc.) about which Python people were getting, why the
need for a second version, etc.  Then, the science version got out of
date as I updated my OS and wanted to keep my data analysis version
stable.  That led to confusion about what features were broken/fixed
in what version.  If SciPy includes Python, it has to make a
commitment to release a new, tested version of the whole package just
as soon as the new Python is available.  That will complicate the
release schedule, as Python releases won't be in sync with the SciPy
development cycle.  There is also the issue, if OSs start including
both mainstream Python and SciPy, of their inherently coming with two
different versions of Python, and thereby causing headaches for the OS
distributor.  The likely result is that the distributor would drop
SciPy.  Further, they will have to to decide which version to install
in /usr/bin (SciPy will lose that one).

If SciPy or any other scientific package includes a Python
interpreter, it should have a special name, like "scipy", and not be
"python" to the command line.  Frankly, I prefer the layered approach,
so long as everyone works to make the layers "just work" together.
This is quite practical with modern package managers.


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