What’s new in the Anaconda distribution for Python

Version 5.0.1 of the math-, science-, and data-analysis-focused distribution for Python uses newly recompiled binaries

What’s new in the Anaconda distribution for Python

Anaconda, the Python language distribution and work environment for scientific computing, data science, statistical analysis, and machine learning, is now available in a broadly revised 5.0 edition.

Version 5.0.1, released this week, addresses some minor bugs and adds useful features, such as updated R language support, that weren’t available in the original 5.0.0 release.

Where to download Anaconda 5.0.1

The community edition of Anaconda Distribution is available for free download directly from Anaconda’s website. The for-pay enterprise edition, with professional support, requires contacting Anaconda’s (formerly Continuum Analytics) sales team.

Anaconda 5 recompiles everything for speed

The Linux and MacOS versions of Anaconda 5 have been built with new compilers: GCC 7.2 for Linux and Clang 4..01 for MacOS. This extends the speed benefits of those compilers to users of earlier editions of those OSes—to MacOS 10.9 Mavericks and CentOS 6.

Anaconda 5 also provides Python packages rebuilt with the new compiler, through its package-management tool conda. However, for the time being, those rebuilt packages are available through a different installation channel.

Anaconda’s long-term plan is to make that new installation channel the default, as more packages get added to the new channel and as users obtain the newly optimized packages and give them a shakedown.

Anaconda 5 provides Conda-forge dev recipes 

Anaconda’s conda tool simplifies installing Python packages used in stats and data analysis, because many of those packages have complex binary dependencies. Conda-forge is a GitHub organization where users can share packages, build recipes, and distributions of projects built for conda.

Some 3,200 packages from Conda-forge are available in their own package list. Among some of the most recently updated:

  • cassandra-driver, a Python module for working with Apache Cassandra and its binary data-access protocol.
  • pyinstaller, for bundling a Python app as a self-contained executable.
  • plotly, an interactive graphing library.
  • openblas, a library for basic vector and matrix math.

Anaconda’s strategy moving foward is to use Conda-forge as its source for build recipes, both for consistency’s sake and to allow a broader range of third-party packages to be used in Anaconda.

Other changes to Anaconda 5

Also new in the latest version of Anaconda:

  • More than 100 packages available through conda have been updated or revised. One major project for accelerating computational speeds on conventional CPUs, the Intel Math Kernel Library, is now available in version 2018.0.0.
  • NumPy users can now work with a wider range of versions of that popular math and statistics package. Other packages in Anaconda’s suite may depend on different versions of NumPy, but users may want access to the latest and greater version. (Anaconda’s term for this is “dependency pinning.”)
  • R language users now have access to R version 3.4.2. All of R’s packages, including RStudio, were rebuilt using Anaconda’s new compilers.