Pyston Team Joins Anaconda

We have some very exciting news to announce today: we (Marius and Kevin) are joining Anaconda! Anaconda is a well-known company that produces open-source Python software, and we think that by joining them we can significantly accelerate the trajectory of Pyston, our faster implementation of Python.

[See the corresponding announcement on the Anaconda Blog: https://www.anaconda.com/blog/pyston-team-joins-anaconda]

What will this look like

Things will largely look the same from the outside, except now we will have access to more resources and expertise to move faster. In particular:

  • Pyston remains an open-source project with the same license as CPython
  • Pyston won’t be tied to using conda
  • We still get to set our roadmap, with potentially less time devoted to monetization work. By joining a company with a mature and efficient monetization scheme, we’ll spend more time doing core feature work.
  • Once we need it, we’ll have a governance model that is separate from Anaconda
  • We may develop integrations with other Anaconda projects in ways that are beneficial to both products
  • We’ll continue to work with the community on the other Python performance projects that are underway

Why Anaconda

We talked to a couple of companies about a possible joint future for Pyston, and Anaconda stood out to us in terms of alignment. They’re already doing similar work with Numba and their other projects, and they have a demonstrated open source commitment that means a lot to us.

We also are excited about the possibility of having better integrations with some of their complementary products. We don’t have anything to announce right now, but we already had conda integration on our roadmap, and now that it’s easier, it’s more likely to happen sooner. Together, we are very excited about possibly integrating the features of Numba and Pyston: the two projects target different layers of the stack, and the hope is that by combining features, we will be able to explore more of the space of possible Python optimizations.

And finally, the medium-term roadmap for Pyston mainly involves work to get Pyston into more peoples’ hands. In this sense, we’re finding alternative Python implementations require much more work than simply making them faster, and joining a leading Python distributor will let us short-cut a number of these steps.

The Future

Now that we have Anaconda’s sponsorship, we are planning out a short-term roadmap for the project. We will announce more when it is ready, so stay tuned! In the meantime, give Pyston a try and let us know how it works for you on our Github issue tracker or our Discord channel.

Pyston v2.2: faster and open source

We are proud to announce Pyston v2.2, the latest version of our faster implementation of the Python programming language. This version is significantly faster than previous ones, and importantly is now open source.

We also merged in many changes from CPython and are now based on CPython 3.8.8.

Performance

Pyston v2.2 is 30% faster than stock Python on our web server benchmarks. This is a significant improvement over our previous performance, and if we were feeling cheeky, we would advertise it as “50% more speedup.”

The foundational technology powering Pyston v2.2 is the same as that found in earlier versions, but we have tuned and optimized more areas and found additional speedups, particularly in our JIT and attribute cache mechanisms.

One noteworthy change is that we decided to remove many of the rarely-used debugging features that Python supports because they are expensive even when not needed. Doing so collectively resulted in a 2% speedup, which was remarkable to us: of all the computers in the world running Python, 2% of them are executing debugging checks. We’ve disabled those checks and are positioning ourselves as an “optimized build” similar to binaries without debugging information. Those who still want debugging features can use the “debug build” of stock Python because they are interchangeable. For a full list of the features we removed in Pyston v2.2, please see our wiki.

Open source

As we’ve continued talking to potential customers we now feel convinced that Pyston can thrive on an open-source business model, primarily by starting with support services. This means that we’ve open sourced Pyston v2.2, which you can find at our GitHub here.

We’ve archived our old repository to reduce confusion, but you can still find that here.

We are looking into which of our newest changes can be upstreamed to CPython. Throughout this process, we welcome your contributions. Help with getting Pyston packaged for additional platforms would be especially useful.

Moving forward

We continue to try and make Pyston as compelling and easy to use as possible. Working Pyston into your projects should be as easy as replacing “python” with “pyston.” If that’s not the case, we’d love to hear about it on our GitHub issues tracker or on our Discord channel. We hope you’ll give Pyston a try and see that it really is the easiest way to speed up your Python code.