Before you arrive for GSFC Python Bootcamp 2015


This document will explain what you need to know before arriving at the 2015 edition of the GSFC Python Bootcamp.

The latest information and schedule for Bootcamp can be found at:

Knowledge and Skill Prerequisites

The primary audience for the Bootcamp is those who have never used Python before, but need to learn it to do their job at GSFC. No previous Python knowledge is assumed. However, you should be comfortable with the following tasks on your chosen computer system:

Note that the level of expertise to perform these actions varies with the system you are on. Booting, logging in, browsing, and editing text files are fairly standard. But the procedures for connecting to a wireless network, and for installing software, vary widely among Windows, Macintosh, and Linux systems. At a minimum, you will need to ensure that your user account has sufficient system privileges to install software. We will be able to provide (very) limited technical support for these tasks, but the more you can do on your own, the better.

In addition to these mechanical aspects of using the computer, you should also have experience with (or at least exposure to) another computer language. Pretty much any laguage will suffice - C, FORTRAN, Perl, etc.. But you will have the easiest time with Python is you have experience with a C-derived language, such as C, C++, or Java. While we will do our best to explain novel concepts to you, we will not be able to spend significant class time on fundamental concepts, such as variables, functions, and similar topics germane to all computer languages.

Software Prerequisites

The bulk of the Bootcamp will use the Anaconda distribution of Python, available at:

Follow the instruction in:

Anaconda installers are available for Linux, Windows, and Macintosh OS X. Download and run the installer appropriate for your system. Once Anaconda is installed, do the following additional steps:

If you just installed anaconda:

source activate (if on Linux or OS X)
activate (if on Windows)

If you already had conda installed: (anaconda should be the first path in your PATH: echo $PATH : /installDirectory/anaconda/bin:/opt/local/bin:... )

conda update conda
conda update anaconda

In all cases, be sure to:

conda update ipython
conda update ipython-notebook
conda update ipython-qtconsole
conda install enaml
conda install basemap

Typing in the terminal: ipython --version should now return: 3.1.0. Run the TestInstall notebook for further verification that everything works properly!

To test that your installation works, download the following file:

Then, in the directory where you downloaded the file, run the command:

ipython notebook

When the browser page appears, click on the "BootCampTestInstall.ipynb" notebook link to open it.

In the "Cell" menu, select "Run all" ...

If your installation works, you should see a message output below the last cell:

"Congratulations! Your python environment seems to be working properly. We look forward to seeing you at the Boot Camp!"

If you don't see that message, let us know what error messages you see and we will try to help you correct the problem.

If you have difficulties, please check if other had similar problem here:

If you cannot find a solution, create a new "Issue" and use the tag "prerequisites".

Someone will help you solving the problems.

Most of the lecture will use the IPython "Notebook":

While this is not a pre-requisite, a good reading of the basic usage of IPython Notebook will help.

A Final Note

In the latter portions of the Bootcamp, we will likely be covering Python packages that are not part of the Anaconda Python distribution as well as more advanced python topics.

Previous bootcamps links are: