24 December 2010

Nuitka Release 0.3.4

This is to inform you about the new stable release of Nuitka. It is the extremely compatible Python compiler, “download now”.

This new release of Nuitka has a focus on re-organizing the Nuitka generated source code and a modest improvement on the performance side.

For a long time now, Nuitka has generated a single C++ file and asked the C++ compiler to translate it to an executable or shared library for CPython to load. This was done even when embedding many modules into one (the “deep” compilation mode, option --deep).

This was simple to do and in theory ought to allow the compiler to do the most optimization. But for large programs, the resulting source code could have exponential compile time behavior in the C++ compiler. At least for the GNU g++ this was the case, others probably as well. This is of course at the end a scalability issue of Nuitka, which now has been addressed.

So the major advancement of this release is to make the --deep option useful. But also there have been a performance improvements, which end up giving us another boost for the “PyStone” benchmark.

Bug Fixes

  • Imports of modules local to packages now work correctly, closing the small compatibility gap that was there.

  • Modules with a “-” in their name are allowed in CPython through dynamic imports. This lead to wrong C++ code created. (Thanks to Li Xuan Ji for reporting and submitting a patch to fix it.)

  • There were warnings about wrong format used for Ssize_t type of CPython. (Again, thanks to Li Xuan Ji for reporting and submitting the patch to fix it.)

  • When a wrong exception type is raised, the traceback should still be the one of the original one.

  • Set and dict contractions (Python 2.7 features) declared local variables for global variables used. This went unnoticed, because list contractions don’t generate code for local variables at all, as they cannot have such.

  • Using the type() built-in to create a new class could attribute it to the wrong module, this is now corrected.

New Features

  • Uses Scons to execute the actual C++ build, giving some immediate improvements.

  • Now caches build results and Scons will only rebuild as needed.

  • The direct use of __import__() with a constant module name as parameter is also followed in “deep” mode. With time, non-constants may still become predictable, right now it must be a real CPython constant string.


  • Added optimization for the built-ins ord() and chr(), these require a module and built-in module lookup, then parameter parsing. Now these are really quick with Nuitka.

  • Added optimization for the type() built-in with one parameter. As above, using from builtin module can be very slow. Now it is instantaneous.

  • Added optimization for the type() built-in with three parameters. It’s rarely used, but providing our own variant, allowed to fix the bug mentioned above.


  • Using scons is a big cleanup for the way how C++ compiler related options are applied. It also makes it easier to re-build without Nuitka, e.g. if you were using Nuitka in your packages, you can easily build in the same way than Nuitka does.

  • Static helpers source code has been moved to “.hpp” and “.cpp” files, instead of being in “.py” files. This makes C++ compiler messages more readable and allows us to use C++ mode in Emacs etc., making it easier to write things.

  • Generated code for each module ends up in a separate file per module or package.

  • Constants etc. go to their own file (although not named sensible yet, likely going to change too)

  • Module variables are now created by the CPythonModule node only and are unique, this is to make optimization of these feasible. This is a pre-step to module variable optimization.

New Tests

  • Added “ExtremeClosure” from my Python quiz, it was not covered by existing tests.

  • Added test case for program that imports a module with a dash in its name.

  • Added test case for main program that starts with a dash.

  • Extended the built-in tests to cover type() as well.


  • There is now a new environment variable NUITKA_SCONS which should point to the directory with the SingleExe.scons file for Nuitka. The scons file could be named better, because it is actually one and the same who builds extension modules and executables.

  • There is now a new environment variable NUITKA_CPP which should point to the directory with the C++ helper code of Nuitka.

  • The script “create-environment.sh” can now be sourced (if you are in the top level directory of Nuitka) or be used with eval. In either case it also reports what it does.


    The script has become obsolete now, as the environment variables are no longer necessary.

  • To cleanup the many “Program.build” directories, there is now a “clean-up.sh” script for your use. Can be handy, but if you use git, you may prefer its clean command.


    The script has become obsolete now, as Nuitka test executions now by default delete the build results.


python 2.6:

Pystone(1.1) time for 50000 passes = 0.65
This machine benchmarks at 76923.1 pystones/second

Nuitka 0.3.4:

Pystone(1.1) time for 50000 passes = 0.34
This machine benchmarks at 147059 pystones/second

This is 91% for 0.3.4, up from 80% before.