22 January 2011

Nuitka Release 0.3.5

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 is an overall improvement on many fronts, there is no real focus this time, likely due to the long time it was in the making.

The major points are more optimization work, largely enhanced import handling and another improvement on the performance side. But there are also many bug fixes, more test coverage, usability and compatibility.

Something esp. noteworthy to me and valued is that many important changes were performed or at least triggered by Nicolas Dumazet, who contributed a lot of high quality commits as you can see from the gitweb history. He appears to try and compile Mercurial and Nuitka, and this resulted in important contributions.

Bug Fixes

  • Nicolas found a reference counting bug with nested parameter calls. Where a function had parameters of the form a, (b,c) it could crash. This got fixed and covered with a reference count test.

  • Another reference count problem when accessing the locals dictionary was corrected.

  • Values 0.0 and -0.0 were treated as the same. They are not though, they have a different sign that should not get lost.

  • Nested contractions didn’t work correctly, when the contraction was to iterate over another contraction which needs a closure. The problem was addressing by splitting the building of a contraction from the body of the contraction, so that these are now 2 nodes, making it easy for the closure handling to get things right.

  • Global statements in function with local exec() would still use the value from the locals dictionary. Nuitka is now compatible to CPython with this too.

  • Nicolas fixed problems with modules of the same name inside different packages. We now use the full name including parent package names for code generation and look-ups.

  • The __module__ attribute of classes was only set after the class was created. Now it is already available in the class body.

  • The __doc__ attribute of classes was not set at all. Now it is.

  • The relative import inside nested packages now works correctly. With Nicolas moving all of Nuitka to a package, the compile itself exposed many weaknesses.

  • A local re-raise of an exception didn’t have the original line attached but the re-raise statement line.

New Features

  • Modules and packages have been unified. Packages can now also have code in “__init__.py” and then it will be executed when the package is imported.

  • Nicolas added the ability to create deep output directory structures without having to create them beforehand. This makes --output-dir=some/deep/path usable.

  • Parallel build by Scons was added as an option and enabled by default, which enhances scalability for --deep compilations a lot.

  • Nicolas enhanced the CPU count detection used for the parallel build. Turned out that multithreading.cpu_count() doesn’t give us the number of available cores, so he contributed code to determine that.

  • Support for upcoming g++ 4.6 has been added. The use of the new option --lto has been been prepared, but right now it appears that the C++ compiler will need more fixes, before we can this feature with Nuitka.

  • The --display-tree feature got an overhaul and now displays the node tree along with the source code. It puts the cursor on the line of the node you selected. Unfortunately I cannot get it to work two-way yet. I will ask for help with this in a separate posting as we can really use a “python-qt” expert it seems.

  • Added meaningful error messages in the “file not found” case. Previously I just didn’t care, but we sort of approach end user usability with this.


  • Added optimization for the built-in range() which otherwise requires a module and builtin module lookup, then parameter parsing. Now this is much faster with Nuitka and small ranges (less than 256 values) are converted to constants directly, avoiding run time overhead entirely.

  • Code for re-raise statements now use a simple re-throw of the exception where possible, and only do the hard work where the re-throw is not inside an exception handler.

  • Constant folding of operations and comparisons is now performed if the operands are constants.

  • Values of some built-ins are pre-computed if the operands are constants.

  • The value of module attribute __name__ is replaced by a constant unless it is assigned to. This is the first sign of upcoming constant propagation, even if only a weak one.

  • Conditional statement and/or their branches are eliminated where constant conditions allow it.


  • Nicolas moved the Nuitka source code to its own nuitka package. That is going to make packaging it a lot easier and allows cleaner code.

  • Nicolas introduced a fast path in the tree building which often delegates (or should do that) to a function. This reduced a lot of the dispatching code and highlights more clearly where such is missing right now.

  • Together we worked on the line length issues of Nuitka. We agreed on a style and very long lines will vanish from Nuitka with time. Thanks for pushing me there.

  • Nicolas also did provide many style fixes and general improvements, e.g. using PyObjectTemporary in more places in the C++ code, or not using str.find where x in y is a better choice.

  • The node structure got cleaned up towards the direction that assignments always have an assignment as a child.

    A function definition, or a class definition, are effectively assignments, and in order to not have to treat this as special cases everywhere, they need to have assignment targets as child nodes.

    Without such changes, optimization will have to take too many things into account. This is not yet completed.

  • Nicolas merged some node tree building functions that previously handled deletion and assigning differently, giving us better code reuse.

  • The constants code generation was moved to a __constants.cpp where it doesn’t make __main__.cpp so much harder to read anymore.

  • The module declarations have been moved to their own header files.

  • Nicolas cleaned up the scripts used to test Nuitka big time, removing repetitive code and improving the logic. Very much appreciated.

  • Nicolas also documented a things in the Nuitka source code or got me to document things that looked strange, but have reasons behind it.

  • Nicolas solved the TODO related to built-in module accesses. These will now be way faster than before.

  • Nicolas also solved the TODO related to the performance of “locals dict” variable accesses.

  • Generator.py no longer contains classes. The Contexts objects are supposed to contain the state, and as such the generator objects never made much sense.

  • Also with the help of Scons community, I figured out how to avoid having object files inside the src directory of Nuitka. That should also help packaging, now all build products go to the .build directory as they should.

  • The vertical white space of the generated C++ got a few cleanups, trailing/leading new line is more consistent now, and there were some assertions added that it doesn’t happen.

New Tests

  • The CPython 2.6 tests are now also run by CPython 2.7 and the other way around and need to report the same test failure reports, which found a couple of issues.

  • Now the test suite is run with and without --debug mode.

  • Basic tests got extended to cover more topics and catch more issues.

  • Program tests got extended to cover code in packages.

  • Added more exec scope tests. Currently inlining of exec statements is disabled though, because it requires entirely different rules to be done right, it has been pushed back to the next release.


  • The g++-nuitka script is no more. With the help of the Scons community, this is now performed inside the scons and only once instead of each time for every C++ file.

  • When using --debug, the generated C++ is compiled with -Wall and -Werror so that some form of bugs in the generated C++ code will be detected immediately. This found a few issues already.

  • There is a new git merge policy in place. Basically it says, that if you submit me a pull request, that I will deal with it before publishing anything new, so you can rely on the current git to provide you a good base to work on. I am doing more frequent pre-releases already and I would like to merge from your git.

  • The “README.txt” was updated to reflect current optimization status and plans. There is still a lot to do before constant propagation can work, but this explains things a bit better now. I hope to expand this more and more with time.

  • There is now a “misc/clean-up.sh” script that prints the commands to erase all the temporary files sticking around in the source tree.

    That is for you if you like me, have other directories inside, ignored, that you don’t want to delete.

  • Then there is now a script that prints all source filenames, so you can more easily open them all in your editor.

  • And very important, there is now a “check-release.sh” script that performs all the tests I think should be done before making a release.

  • Pylint got more happy with the current Nuitka source. In some places, I added comments where rules should be granted exceptions.


python 2.6:

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

Nuitka 0.3.5 (driven by python 2.6):

Pystone(1.1) time for 50000 passes = 0.31
This machine benchmarks at 161290 pystones/second

This is 109% for 0.3.5, up from 91% before.

Overall this release is primarily an improvement in the domain of compatibility and contains important bug and feature fixes to the users. The optimization framework only makes a first showing of with the framework to organize them. There is still work to do to migrate optimization previously present

It will take more time before we will see effect from these. I believe that even more cleanups of TreeBuilding, Nodes and CodeGeneration will be required, before everything is in place for the big jump in performance numbers. But still, passing 100% feels good. Time to rejoice.