Saturday, December 22, 2007

People still (and will) use windows

I sometimes look at the download statistics of SymPy and the funny thing is that people download more the Windows installer, rather than the multiplatform source tarball. Part of this can be due to the fact, that SymPy is in Debian, Ubuntu and Sage, but still.

So here is how to make a windows installer in Debian:

$ ./ bdist_wininst

and a file dist/sympy-0.5.9-hg.win32.exe is created. I only have regular python tools installed. So we just upload the exe to our site and that's it -- kind of scary, since I don't have means to test it.

But one time I tried that on one of brother's computers with windows and not only it worked, but also the 3D plotting using pyglet worked out of the box! If you are curious how it looks like:

So it has it's advantages to develop pure Python programs - they really run everywhere.

I think installing things like Python and playing with SymPy on windows must be pain (maybe people just download SymPy for windows and then run away with disgust). But just the fact that they try means, that people doing science do use windows a lot. And I don't think this is going to change any time soon. I also fully agree with Michael Abshoff's recent post about this issue.


Unknown said...

I know what you mean. In my research group (atomic physics) of 10 to 20 people, I am the only person using GNU/Linux on any computer. I got one person to try out the Debian XFCE livecd for data recovery when his Windows install got messed up somehow, but that's it.

If there were a real push to move everyone to GNU/Linux, I expect the problem will be instrument control---we use a lot of LabView stuff, and all the versions we have installed are Windows versions (and of course, having bought Windows version doesn't mean you can ue GNU/Linux version for free---you still have to buy that one again).

I myself am personally moving away from LabView and learning to use ... python for the same task (PyVISA supports most interfaces that LabView seems to), but I don't see other people doing that.

Marius Gedminas said...

What sort of magic "regular python tools" do you have installed? When I try this command on Debian or on Ubuntu, I get a lot of output followed by an error:

Warning: Can't read registry to find the necessary compiler setting
Make sure that Python modules _winreg, win32api or win32con are installed.
removing 'build/bdist.linux-i686/wininst' (and everything under it)

Unknown said...

Marius - yes, it writes me the same too, but it works. As I wrote in the post, go to dist/*.exe and that's it.

Unknown said...

Hi Byung,

yes, I am also the only one using Debian in our lab (thin films). Yes, experiments suck. I do calculcations, so I am fine. :)

Dmitrey said...

I had noticed same effect in scikits.openopt visitors statistics (~60% Windows users, ~17% MacOS and ~17% Linux users), however, I guess it means that Linux users already have enough free scientific software, while Win and MacOS lack the one, so users are interested in free (moreover, BSD-licensed w/o copyleft) numpy/scipy very much.