[Numpy-discussion] Numeric3

Chris Barker Chris.Barker at noaa.gov
Fri Feb 4 14:53:45 EST 2005

konrad.hinsen at laposte.net wrote:

>> SciPy is sufficiently hard to install that they are concerned about 
>> requiring it for their math-using

> It's not just belief, it's my own experience,

And mine. I love the idea of SciPy, and have been following the project 
since the beginning, but have never really used it. I've tried a number 
of times, and it's been a pain.

> admittedly not very recent 

me neither.

> For Windows and Debian - that covers none of the machines

I use Gentoo and OS-X. I'm used to weird installs (or I wouldn't use 
Gentoo), but my colleagues all use OS-X, and It I can't give them an 
easy installer, forget it.

 > My experience with binary
> installations for Linux in general is not so good.

Mine neither, but source installs are far easier there than any other 
system! Probably because a lot of developers use Linux, but also because 
it's a very developer and open-source friendly system. Right now I'm 
working on making a binary for matplotlib on OS-X. No one would have a 
Linux box without libpng and libfreetype, but OS-X doesn't have those 
out of the box.

> In principle, yes, but there are significant differences in "mean 
> expected trouble". Some libraries are moving targets (GTK comes to 
> mind), and dependencies on them are a big source of fragility.

Exactly, and things get weird with overlapping dependencies. PyGTK 
requires X11, which has libfreetype. matplotlib requires freetype, but 
can be used with or without pyGTK....
> With only 
> C code and no external dependencies, there is rarely ever a problem, and 
> that's why Numeric is a low-risk package.

Except that it's setup.py has been broken for the last few releases. 
That's been a problem for a number of users.

By the way, here OS-X is much better than other systems, it comes with 
lapack built in! (Veclib)

 > Fine if SciPy is all you want, but I have dozens of other Python
> packages installed for the Fink Python, which in general is the better 
> choice because there is a very complete set of easy-to-install Python 
> packages from Fink.

Actually, I disagree. Apple's Python is a better choice (you can't run 
Aqua applications from a fink python, at least I don't think so), but we 
do need to do more to provide easy to install packages for it. (there 
are a lot)

Here Fink drives me crazy. It's a system-within-a-system. I want 
everything on my Mac to fit in well with my Mac. If there was a 
fink-like system (I haven't yet tried darwinports or Gentoo) that didn't 
duplicate Apples supplied stuff with incompatible versions (Python, 
X11), I'd be much happier.

> The net result is that I still don't have SciPy on my Mac

Me neither, though I don't think it's SciPy's fault. The core problem is 
  that there aren't all that many people using OS-X developing Python 
packages, and Apple has, of course, made OS-X just different enough from 
other unices to require some work (or take the easy way and use fink, 
but then it doesn't play with the rest of the Mac). Ironically, this 
should be even harder on Windows, but there are enough Windows users 
that someone usually gets around making a binary.

>> people have installation difficulties caused by the use of FORTRAN.   
>> The biggest problem, I see, is not using FORTRAN, but trying to 
>> support all the different FORTRAN compilers that might get used.

What's the distinction? Again, Apple doesn't provide f77. That's been a 
stopper for me.

> Because in the short run that's the path of least effort, or least pain: 

This is a key issue with all open-source projects (at least ones that 
aren't funder). We all do the easiest thing to get the functionality we 
need. If we combined all our duplicate efforts, we'd be in great shape, 
but an any given moment, I mostly need to get my job done, not make a 
better SciPy, or whatever.

> This is in fact not just a SciPy issue. Installation problems and the 
> fragility of package interdependencies are the #1 problem in the 
> OpenSource world in my opinion.


Christopher Barker, Ph.D.
NOAA/OR&R/HAZMAT         (206) 526-6959   voice
7600 Sand Point Way NE   (206) 526-6329   fax
Seattle, WA  98115       (206) 526-6317   main reception

Chris.Barker at noaa.gov

More information about the NumPy-Discussion mailing list