[Numpy-discussion] numpy docs dependency problem in Ubuntu

Barry Warsaw barry at python.org
Thu Feb 10 12:22:00 EST 2011

I hope this message is on-topic for this mailing list!

I'm working on the packaging for python-numpy 1.5 in the next version of
Ubuntu (11.04 - Natty), and I'm hitting an issue that I'm hoping you can help
me with.

For reference, the two relevant bugs are:


Here's the problem: for Ubuntu, we've had to disable the building of the numpy
documentation package, because its dependencies violate Ubuntu policy.  Numpy
is in our "main" archive but the documentation depends on python-matplotlib,
which lives in our "universe" archive.  Such cross archive dependencies break
the build.

We can't put python-matplotlib in main because of *its* dependencies.  You get
the idea: its entire dependency stack would have to be moved to main and
that's not feasible.

There are a number of workarounds that we might employ to re-enable the docs,
but here's what I've done so far:

In conf.py:
* Wrapped the 'import matplotlib' in a try-except and just issue a warning if
  the import fails.
* use_plots = False
* Comment out 'plot_directive' in extensions

In doc/sphinxext/tests/test_docscrape.py:
* in test_plot_examples():
  * cfg = dict(use_plots=False)

This lets me get through the build of the docs without the dependency on
matplotlib, and a cursory look at the documentation looks pretty good.

I'm inclined to propose this as a permanent workaround, but I wanted to get
your feedback first.  Is there a better way to build the docs without
matplotlib?  What are the practical effects of my workaround?  Do you think
this will be an acceptable solution for Ubuntu users of numpy?

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