Archive for August, 2013

PyPy is awesome

August 15, 2013 Leave a comment

PyPy is a fast, compliant alternative implementation of the Python language (2.7.3 and 3.2.3).

Visit the download page and get the 32-bit or 64-bit archive, depending on your architecture. I extracted it in the /opt directory and put a symbolic link on it:

jabba@jabba-uplink:/opt$ ls -al | grep pypy
lrwxrwxrwx  1 jabba jabba     8 Aug 15 12:32 pypy -> pypy-2.1
drwxr-xr-x  7 jabba jabba  4096 Jul 31 12:59 pypy-2.1

If you install a newer version, just update the symbolic link.

Put another symbolic link to /usr/bin called pypy that points to /opt/pypy/bin/pypy:

root@jabba-uplink:~# ls -al /usr/bin/pypy
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 18 Aug 15 16:39 /usr/bin/pypy -> /opt/pypy/bin/pypy

Try it:

jabba@jabba-uplink:~$ pypy
Python 2.7.3 (480845e6b1dd, Jul 31 2013, 09:57:07)
[PyPy 2.1.0 with GCC 4.6.3] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

Install pip for pypy
We also want to use 3rd party libraries with pypy thus we need pip.

$ wget
$ wget
$ pypy
$ pypy

Add the following alias to your ~/.bashrc:

alias pip_pypy='/opt/pypy/bin/pip'

Open a new terminal and you are ready to install 3rd party libraries. Example:

$ pip_pypy install futures    # import concurrent.futures

Tip from here. Getting started here.

Categories: python Tags: ,

Python 3 is slower than Python 2?

August 15, 2013 2 comments

Recently I was playing with concurrent.futures. Following a comment on reddit, I got to the presentation of David Beazley entitled Understanding the Python GIL.

It’s a very interesting talk and from this I learned that Python 3.2 got a new GIL implementation! Out of curiosity I compared the performance of Python 2.7 and 3.3. The test machine had 4 cores. I made a CPU bound test script with three variations: (1) basic, single-threaded version, (2) using 4 threads, and (3) using 4 processes.

The results were surprising for me because Python 2.7 turned out to be faster!

(Legends: Py2 = Python 2.7.4, Py3 = Python 3.3.1)
Py2: 5.32 sec, Py3: 9.66 sec

Py2: 13.41 sec, Py3: 17.32 sec

Py2: 1.28 sec, Py3: 2.27 sec

You can also try the scripts, they are here.

Categories: python Tags: , , ,

bpython config file for light background

August 14, 2013 6 comments

The default color scheme of bpython is designed for dark background. If you launch bpython with light background, it’s almost unreadable. Is there a color scheme for light background?

Create the dir ~/.bpython and add the following files:


# This is a standard python config file
# Valid values can be True, False, integer numbers, strings
# By default bpython will look for ~/.bpython/config or you can specify a file
# with the -c option on the command line

# General section tag

# Display the autocomplete list as you type (default: True).
# When this is off, you can hit tab to see the suggestions.
auto_display_list = True

# Syntax highlighting as you type (default: True).
syntax = True

# Display the arg spec (list of arguments) for callables,
# when possible (default: True).
arg_spec = True

# History file (default: ~/.pythonhist):
hist_file = ~/.pythonhist

# Number of lines to store in history (set to 0 to disable) (default: 100):
hist_len = 100

# Soft tab size (default: 4, see pep-8):
tab_length = 4

# Color schemes should be put in ~/.bpython/
# e.g. to use the theme ~/.bpython/foo.theme set color_scheme = foo
# Leave blank or set to "default" to use the default theme
#color_scheme = default
color_scheme = jabba

pastebin = F8
save = C-s

~/.bpython/jabba.theme (derived from light.theme):

# Each letter represents a colour marker:
#   k, r, g, y, b, m, c, w, d
# which stands for:
#   blacK, Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Magenta, Cyan, White, Default
# Capital letters represent bold
# Copy to ~/.bpython/foo.theme and set "color_scheme = foo" in
# ~/.bpython/config

keyword = B
name = r
comment = b
string = g
error = r
number = B
operator = b
paren = b
punctuation = b
token = g

# XXX: gnome-terminal appears to be braindead. The cursor will disappear unless
# you set the background colour to "d".
background = d
output = b
main = b
prompt = b
prompt_more = g


Update (20160214)
As it was pointed out by Leonardo in a comment (thanks!), “you need to put the configuration files inside ~/.config/bpython instead of ~/.bpython.” Yeah, applications in newer Linux versions prefer the ~/.config folder.

Download files with threads easily

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

You have a file with a list of URLs that you want to download. You already know the wget trick:

wget -i down.txt

However, if you want to fetch a lot of files, it can be slow.

Well, let’s launch wget instances parallelly and fetch those files quickly. With concurrent.futures, it’s just a few lines:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import os
import concurrent.futures
from threading import Lock

lock = Lock()
INPUT = "down.txt"

def download(url):
    cmd = "wget -q {url}".format(url=url)
    with lock:
        print cmd

def main():
    with concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor(max_workers=THREADS) as ex:
        with open(INPUT) as f:
            for line in f:
                line = line.rstrip("\n")
                ex.submit(download, line)


if __name__ == "__main__":

Thanks to defnull at reddit who directed me towards conncurrent.futures.

Download PyCon US 2012 videos in a multithreaded way

August 13, 2013 Leave a comment

Note: I wrote this script some time ago when I didn’t know about concurrent.futures. This script does the job nicely but it’s a bit verbose. With concurrent.futures it would be just a few lines.

With the following script you can download all the videos of PyCon US 2012:

#!/usr/bin/env python

Download PyCon US 2012 videos in a multithreaded way.
Requirement: youtube-dl script.

written by Jabba Laci, 2013 (

PyCon US 2012 videos:

1) download youtube-dl and put it somewhere in the PATH
2) create a subdirectory called "download"
3) launch this script

Total size of the videos is about 27.5 GB.
The download process can take several hours.
You can interrupt the downloading with "killall python".
If you re-launch the script, the downloading will resume.

Tested under Linux with Python 2.7.

import os
from Queue import Queue
from threading import Thread, Lock

TO_DIR = "download"

lock = Lock()
q = Queue()
threads = []

DATA = ["AeQxx4zXd5Q", "O8WXXtDUUOE", "ktLyuWoRHH8", "tKTW8Jd0BlQ", "A3Qe5wUbXzM",
"ZwBiQEHS4T8", "Rmg4-Ae1P1o", "9XlPKEessD8", "MIAKOMzRl1I", "q_i3CHNITQ4",
"3CSxYKbxfPU", "4bWC_VXffq4", "v7HH_CNIdXc", "ziz2lh-14i8", "dhUo_lpD7v0",
"WMUXMqYhQ-M", "qLXllxd4Z1c", "3FcAcE3Zq2Q", "U1Y5Uxn2Rcw", "x-JDra36m38",
"Me9SZohibPQ", "KUOoStyV7Zs", "Qh4Gkkgi1Mw", "Hx6VxszpvsY", "CFt6QrzavH0",
"AMMBYLB3qd0", "fVpvd7OX6PQ", "OceCWIqZt7I", "VuFW0PkNS74", "5jRLjGWWaHs",
"_CPNLY_Gf7s", "67l4czkKsz8", "FCiA6e44aOI", "uUEwEMMCZhE", "cY7pE7vX6MU",
"vP6j7VDpPrI", "QrITN6GZDu4", "euh9ZQi339o", "EBRMq2Ioxsc", "3BYN3ouwkRA",
"tCUdeLIj4hE", "Wk8zAr0R9zQ", "NUQMr5R3dlk", "twQKAoq2OPE", "dJJDndQrsSw",
"Q0Q9K93bK-4", "5YQrFiWa50M", "VMIj6eB9baY", "KOfB5WQb39g", "M5IPlMe83yI",
"2gha47uSk5c", "lJL2asANiyM", "YHXX3KuB23Q", "LddeJ06JoXE", "gpKMwPoldak",
"BoMQqW0lxVE", "NkUTLRZBWLM", "fekA2mRGTTE", "b7R3-_ViNxk", "nhr-YErfW8k",
"WZoeqnsY9AY", "Wh9a0obtQUQ", "ahM4GBZ-6qg", "399c-ycBvo4", "kdZuUIj4lMo",
"E09qigk_hnY", "nvkCqFLtcJI", "NIcijUt-HlE", "l_HBRhcgeuQ", "dX3DRdFKW_E",
"y_cXzaymXm0", "RBOScqRGHZA", "QPgqfnKG_T4", "fWONoZvTi80", "sgHbC6udIqc",
"1CjX385y3e4", "hnhN2_TpY8g", "GxyfYEe8MiQ", "wslWYg0CTkY", "54XwSUC8klI",
"6wZoBbE-rOo", "Zv26xHYlc8s", "N4zdWLuSbV0", "H841U6RhrDU", "bwwf_HbEJQM",
"qmgh14LUOjQ", "qTwvObrRGdY", "Ycvg0PCQ-sM", "ickNQcNXiS4", "C9K8DOe1zWw",
"47NSfuuuMfs", "3UHE-zD1r_M", "bTXert2uRco", "Bt2HStzaBzE", "z1RQMm37Xmw",
"LnVkLXRIbIg", "P5ad6NpjR3M", "hyzPYaAmVOc", "tYW52SLy_w0", "JOXwclgvXB0",
"188mXjwdkak", "9G6-GksU7Ko", "TmuEDxX1FDQ", "jXlR0Icvvh8", "vfYul2E56fo",
"cSbD5SKwak0", "bGWytn-Ff9E", "hvPYuqzTPIk", "RAxiiRPHS9k", "Mv3xgBQJPaE",
"jOu0D9ttCFI", "4-TwdBuTR1A", "yflKOoAohEk", "ANhTacigaf8", "vfPtGsSJldg",
"YdnBK5yO4zU", "26wgEsg9Mcc", "R9ITLdmfdLI", "KUpIFhNW89A", "OBbvj0WWT-g",
"9q8LTZSvpr8", "qbYYamU42Sw", "-Mx1JVTFOBY", "AZDWveIdqjY", "__s45TTXxps",
"QGfxLXoMpPk", "3dMq_3UUPxg", "9LVqBQcFmyw", "Adr_QuDZxuM", "YyEReiAYGlU",
"G-lGCC4KKok", "1VZfL9JVgFg", "n6145JSeqWc", "XGF3Qu4dUqk", "Xu5EhKVZdV8",
"o9pEzgHorH0", "miGolgp9xq8", "Xk6gQ6s2QjU", "tYk4_Nzl-Gg", "sdkAXM36C7M",
"L-fXOoxrt0M", "Iw9-GckD-gQ", "xHqlzuPq_qQ", "duc3jYgAaR0", "Zd5dfooZWG4",
"g0CankXpFZg", "ULdDuwf48kM", "P7SVi0YTIuE", "Pi9NpxAvYSs", "qgGqaBAEy3Q",
"bobeo5kFz1g", "w26x-z-BdWQ", "t_ziKY1ayCo", "Bs6-sai1fKE", "oZw8m_lyhvo",
"hp5ymCrD9yw", "2G5YTlheCbw", "SULKL7TMRsU", "Thd8yoBou7k", "52wxGESwQSA",

def read_urls():
    global q
    for yid in DATA:

class DownLoadThread(Thread):
    def __init__(self, thread_id):
        super(DownLoadThread, self).__init__()
        self.thread_id = thread_id

    def run(self):
        global q
        while not q.empty():
            url = q.get()
            cmd = "youtube-dl {url} -t -c 1>/dev/null".format(url=url)
            with lock:
                print "{tid}: START {cmd}".format(tid=self.thread_id, cmd=cmd)
                print "# queue size:", q.qsize()
            with lock:
                print "{tid}: STOP {cmd}".format(tid=self.thread_id, cmd=cmd)

def main():
    global threads
    for i in xrange(THREADS):
        t = DownLoadThread(i)

    for t in threads:

    for t in threads:

    print "# END"


if __name__ == "__main__":



August 13, 2013 3 comments

The concurrent.futures module provides a high-level interface for asynchronously executing callables. The asynchronous execution can be performed with threads, using ThreadPoolExecutor, or separate processes, using ProcessPoolExecutor.” (source)

This feature appeared in Python 3.2 but the good news is that it was backported to Python 2 too. You’ll need to install the futures module:

sudo pip install futures

(0) Basic example without concurrency
Let’s take the following basic example:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from Queue import Queue
import random
import time

q = Queue()
fred = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]

def f(x):
    if random.randint(0,1):
    res = x * x

def main():
    for num in fred:
    while not q.empty():
        print q.get()

if __name__ == "__main__":

We have a list of numbers and we want to calculate their squares. The results are stored in a queue. In general, function “f()” performs a job that can take longer time too (that’s why I added some random waiting). These jobs are executed one after the other but the jobs are independent from each other: calculating the square of 5 doesn’t rely on the square of 4 for instance, i.e. these jobs could be processed parallely.

(1) Using ThreadPoolExecutor
Let’s execute the jobs mentioned above parallely with threads:

#!/usr/bin/env python

from Queue import Queue
import concurrent.futures
import random
import time

q = Queue()
fred = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]

def f(x):
    if random.randint(0,1):
    res = x * x

def main():
    with concurrent.futures.ThreadPoolExecutor(max_workers=4) as executor:
        for num in fred:
            executor.submit(f, num)
    while not q.empty():
        print q.get()


if __name__ == "__main__":

Here we have a pool (a “list”) in which the jobs are added (see the for loop). We have 4 threads working on this pool: each thread takes a job out from the pool, executes it, and when the job is done, it takes another job-to-be-processed from the pool. When all the jobs are processed in the pool by the 4 workers, the execution goes on after the “with” block. The “with” statement guarantees that the execution is waiting until all worker threads finish. When we reach the “while” loop, all jobs are processed and all the worker threads finished.

The results are stored in a Queue because it is thread-safe. “The Queue module implements multi-producer, multi-consumer queues. It is especially useful in threaded programming when information must be exchanged safely between multiple threads. The Queue class in this module implements all the required locking semantics.

(2) Using ProcessPoolExecutor
The ProcessPoolExecutor class is an Executor subclass that uses a pool of processes to execute calls asynchronously. ProcessPoolExecutor uses the multiprocessing module, which allows it to side-step the Global Interpreter Lock but also means that only picklable objects can be executed and returned.

So, instead of threads we will use processes here.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import sys
import redis
import concurrent.futures

r = redis.Redis()
fred = [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10]

def check_server():
    except redis.exceptions.ConnectionError:
        print >>sys.stderr, "Error: cannot connect to redis server. Is the server running?"

def f(x):
    res = x * x
    r.rpush("test", res)

def main():
    with concurrent.futures.ProcessPoolExecutor(max_workers=4) as executor:
        for num in fred:
            executor.submit(f, num)
    print r.lrange("test", 0, -1)


if __name__ == "__main__":

It’s basically the same, simply ThreadPoolExecutor was replaced with ProcessPoolExecutor.

Again, we want to store the results in a “list”. However, Queue is not a good choice here because we are using processes here, and Queue is made for threads. I decided to store the results in a redis list. For more information about redis, read this post of mine: redis: getting started. In redis all operations are atomic, thus different processes can safely write the results in it.

When using processes, you might get this error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/multiprocessing/", line 266, in _feed
IOError: [Errno 32] Broken pipe

It seems to be a bug, I didn’t have this issue with Python3. A possible workaround is to submit elements slower, i.e. add “time.sleep(0.01)” after the line “executor.submit(…)”. More info here.

Which solution to use?
Once you have a basic solution without concurrency, it’s quite easy to parallelize the code with concurrent.futures, you just need to add some extra lines. Threads are good for I/O tasks, while processes are good for CPU-bound tasks.

However, you should make some tests because the results can be surprising. Out of curiosity, I tried the three methods above with a simple prime test. The source codes are available here. I go from 1 to 1000, and I test every number if it’s a prime or not. The prime test is very simple, and the whole exercise is CPU-bound.


$ time ./
real    0m0.026s
$ time ./
real    0m0.138s
$ time ./
real    0m0.255s

That is, the naive approach was the fastest. Then threads, and finally processes.

I also tried to test numbers up to 100000. Basic: 0.3 sec, threads: 11 sec, processes: 17 sec (on a CPU with 4 cores).

I posed a question on reddit concerning multithreading and GIL. I got interesting answers, you can read them here.


August 11, 2013 Leave a comment

The pickle module implements a fundamental, but powerful algorithm for serializing and de-serializing a Python object structure. “Pickling” is the process whereby a Python object hierarchy is converted into a byte stream, and “unpickling” is the inverse operation, whereby a byte stream is converted back into an object hierarchy.” It’s a.k.a. serialization. (source)

For writing this entry, I also used this post on PyMOTW.

By default, the pickled byte stream contains ASCII characters only. But it’s fine, it makes debugging easier.

The cpickle module is a C implementation, which is a lot faster than the pure Python pickle module.

The pickle format is specific to Python, so you can use it only between two Python programs.

Warning! The pickle module is not intended to be secure against erroneous or maliciously constructed data. Never unpickle data received from an untrusted or unauthenticated source.

#!/usr/bin/env python

    import cPickle as pickle
    import pickle

def main():
    data1 = [ { 'a':'one', 'b':2, 'c':3.0 } ]
    print 'DATA: ',

    data1_string = pickle.dumps(data1)    # here: pickling
    print 'PICKLE:', data1_string

    data2 = pickle.loads(data1_string)    # here: unpickling
    print 'UNPICKLED:',

    print 'SAME?:', (data1 is data2)
    print 'EQUAL?:', (data1 == data2)


if __name__ == "__main__":


DATA:  [{'a': 'one', 'c': 3.0, 'b': 2}]
PICKLE: (lp1
UNPICKLED: [{'a': 'one', 'c': 3.0, 'b': 2}]
SAME?: False
EQUAL?: True

When working with your own classes, you must ensure that the class being pickled appears in the namespace of the process reading the pickle. Only the data for the instance is pickled, not the class definition. The class name is used to find the constructor to create the new object when unpickling.” (source)

That is, when you want to unpickle instances of a class, don’t forget to import the definition of this class!

Categories: python Tags: