[Python-Dev] Re: 2.4 news reaches interesting places

Martijn Faassen faassen at infrae.com
Sun Dec 12 13:15:29 CET 2004

Phillip J. Eby wrote:
> At 08:22 AM 12/11/04 -0800, Guido van Rossum wrote:
>> BTW I strongly disagree that making easy .EXE binaries available will
>> address this issue; while not bundled, there are plenty of solutions
>> for maning .EXEs for those who need them, and this is not something
>> that typically worries managers. But the perception of Python as
>> "slow" does worry managers.
> The relevant memes are that "compiled == fast", and that ".exe == 
> compiled".
> It's not about .exe as a distribution format, but rather that producing 
> an .exe is supporting evidence of having a "real" compiler.
> IOW, if there exists a compiler, but it doesn't produce .exe's, it won't 
> be considered a "real" compiler by many programmers.

This is indeed an extremely common set of memes. It especially haunts 
people who have done some programming in the past but don't really have 
it as their main focus now. Many managers would be in this group.

It's a PC-platform thing mostly. In the early days of the PC, you had 
BASIC, and you had compiled languages. Interpreted BASIC was considered 
to be unprofessional and slow. Distributing your program as a .bas file 
was considered to be a sign of amateurism. Besides, interpreters on that 
hardware *were* sometimes unacceptably slow. If you got a compiled .exe 
it was a sign of performance and more professionalism. Microsoft was 
quite aware of this meme: they did the trick with Visual Basic 
(packaging their interpreter in the .exe and called it 'compiled'.

The "compiled == fast" meme is also very common among programmers 
themselves; I know I myself had to wrestle free of it (I didn't care 
about .exes by that time as I was on linux). That's probably why we have 
so many Python programmers saying, "well, yeah, Python is not as fast as 
compiled languages but it's fast enough"; that's the counter meme that 
replaced the "compilation is good" meme that was there in those people 
before. It's quite possible that some of these programmers influence 



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