(slightly OT): Python and linux - very cool

Peter Hansen peter at engcorp.com
Thu Aug 8 05:45:11 CEST 2002

Mart van de Wege wrote:
> On Wed, 07 Aug 2002 16:43:06 +0200, Mr. Berserker wrote:
> >> Anyway, they had suggested python as a good first language
> >
> > Definitely. In the future, Python will likely replace BASHI*T as a
> > learning language, the difference being that Python is probably worth
> > it for serious projects, from what I know of it. I ought to seriously
> > invest some time in Python; its syntax, which looks like pseudocode,
> > but less scribbly, seems very interesting. Does it make interpretation
> > slow?

No, it does not make interpretation slow.  Not any slower than if it
had a different syntax, anyway.

> Actually, Python is pretty quick for an interpreted language. This is
> mostly because it is a byte-code interpreter.

I'd say it's mostly because the parts that really matter are mostly
written in portable C code.  Python is pretty quick in general, not
just for interpreted languages.

> While not as fast as the Java VM

That is a matter of some debate, with no clear answer yet.  Benchmarks 
as you know are next in this list: little white lies, lies, damned lies, ...
There are certainly things for which Java is (somewhat) faster, and
things for which Python is (somewhat) faster.  Probably even a few
things for which one or the other is much faster.

Fortunately, speed of execution is not an important issue most of the
time, compared to speed of development, which is almost always a very
important issue.  There, at least, Python seems to have a clear 
advantage (while in other areas it has some disadvantages, perhaps).

> Note though, that Python does not rely on a complete VM yet, like Java
> does. 

For those of us who don't understand what "complete" means, relative
to the Python VM which we thought was quite complete, could you please
clarify this?

> There are however plans to port Python to the Parrot VM, so that it
> will share a common VM with Perl. I am watching with interest, as I really
> like the combination of Perl for the heavy lifting on the back end, and
> Python for creating maintainable front-ends (Python *really* shines in
> writing GUI code).

Sounds like a strange combination, unless you've really got a thing
for Perl.  What "heavy lifting" can it do that Python can't do at least
roughly as well?  (But no language war intended.  I just don't understand
why somebody would want to mix the two, unless his dislike of each was
about equal.  I thought both were roughly on par in general capability. :)


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