03 April 2011

Nuitka Release 0.3.8

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

This is to inform you about the new release of Nuitka with some real news and a slight performance increase. The significant news is added “Windows Support”. You can now hope to run Nuitka on Windows too and have it produce working executables against either the standard Python distribution or a MinGW compiled Python.

There are still some small things to iron out, and clearly documentation needs to be created, and esp. the DLL hell problem of msvcr90.dll vs. msvcrt.dll, is not yet fully resolved, but appears to be not as harmful, at least not on native Windows.

I am thanking Khalid Abu Bakr for making this possible. I was surprised to see this happen. I clearly didn’t make it easy. He found a good way around ucontext, identifier clashes, and a very tricky symbol problems where the CPython library under Windows exports less than under Linux. Thanks a whole lot.

Currently the Windows support is considered experimental and works with MinGW 4.5 or higher only.

Otherwise there have been the usual round of performance improvements and more cleanups. This release is otherwise milestone 2 work only, which will have to continue for some time more.

Bug Fixes

  • Lambda generators were not fully compatible, their simple form could yield an extra value. The behavior for Python 2.6 and 2.7 is also different and Nuitka now mimics both correctly, depending on the used Python version

  • The given parameter count cited in the error message in case of too many parameters, didn’t include the given keyword parameters in the error message.

  • There was an assert False right after warning about not found modules in the --deep mode, which was of course unnecessary.


  • When unpacking variables in assignments, the temporary variables are now held in a new temporary class that is designed for the task specifically.

    This avoids the taking of a reference just because the PyObjectTemporary destructor insisted on releasing one. The new class PyObjectTempHolder hands the existing reference over and releases only in case of exceptions.

  • When unpacking variable in for loops, the value from the iterator may be directly assigned, if it’s to a variable.

    In general this would be possible for every assignment target that cannot raise, but the infrastructure cannot tell yet, which these would be. This will improve with more milestone 3 work.

  • Branches with only pass inside are removed, pass statements are removed before the code generation stage. This makes it easier to achieve and decide empty branches.

  • There is now a global variable class per module. It appears that it is indeed faster to roll out a class per module accessing the module * rather than having one class and use a module **, which is quite disappointing from the C++ compiler.

  • Also MAKE_LIST and MAKE_TUPLE have gained special cases for the 0 arguments case. Even when the size of the variadic template parameters should be known to the compiler, it seems, it wasn’t eliminating the branch, so this was a speedup measured with valgrind.

  • Empty tried branches are now replaced when possible with try/except statements, try/finally is simplified in this case. This gives a cleaner tree structure and less verbose C++ code which the compiler threw away, but was strange to have in the first place.

  • In conditions the or and and were evaluated with Python objects instead of with C++ bool, which was unnecessary overhead.

  • List contractions got more clever in how they assign from the iterator value.

    It now uses a PyObjectTemporary if it’s assigned to multiple values, a PyObjectTempHolder if it’s only assigned once, to something that could raise, or a PyObject * if an exception cannot be raised. This avoids temporary references completely for the common case.


  • The if, for, and while statements had always empty else nodes which were then also in the generated C++ code as empty branches. No harm to performance, but this got cleaned up.

  • Some more generated code white space fixes.

New Tests

  • The CPython 2.7 test suite now also has the doctests extracted to static tests, which improves test coverage for Nuitka again.

    This was previously only done for CPython 2.6 test suite, but the test suites are different enough to make this useful, e.g. to discover newly changed behavior like with the lambda generators.

  • Added Shed Skin 0.7.1 examples as benchmarks, so we can start to compare Nuitka performance in these tests. These will be the focus of numbers for the 0.4.x release series.

  • Added a micro benchmark to check unpacking behavior. Some of these are needed to prove that a change is an actual improvement, when its effect can go under in noise of in-line vs. no in-line behavior of the C++ compiler.

  • Added “pybench” benchmark which reveals that Nuitka is for some things much faster, but there are still fields to work on. This version needed changes to stand the speed of Nuitka. These will be subject of a later posting.


  • There is now a “tests/benchmarks/micro” directory to contain tiny benchmarks that just look at a single aspect, but have no other meaning, e.g. the “PyStone” extracts fall into this category.

  • There is now a --windows-target option that attempts a cross-platform build on Linux to Windows executable. This is using “MingGW-cross-env” cross compilation tool chain. It’s not yet working fully correctly due to the DLL hell problem with the C runtime. I hope to get this right in subsequent releases.

  • The --execute option uses wine to execute the binary if it’s a cross-compile for windows.

  • Native windows build is recognized and handled with MinGW 4.5, the VC++ is not supported yet due to missing C++0x support.

  • The basic test suite ran with Windows so far only and some adaptations were necessary. Windows new lines are now ignored in difference check, and addresses under Windows are upper case, small things.


python 2.6:

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

Nuitka 0.3.8 (driven by python 2.6):

Pystone(1.1) time for 50000 passes = 0.27
This machine benchmarks at 185185 pystones/second

This is a 140% speed increase of 0.3.8 compared to CPython, up from 132% compared to the previous release.