MacPython and Gnuplot in MacOS X

These instructions are for MacOS 10.2 (Jaguar) and as of September 2004 are out of date. They will likely need to be modified to work with more recent versions of the packages below. Instructions for MacOS 10.3 (Panther), including SciPy, are here.

Scientific use of Python requires at a minimum Numerical Python and a simple way to generate plots. There are several ways to do this under MacOS X. Here I describe a simple approach using MacPython and Gnuplot.

You can instead use the Unix versions of Python and many other programs. This is actually easier than what I describe below, as long as you use the Fink project. However this approach requires extensive downloads, including all of X-windows. On the other hand, it makes the entire world of open-source Unix software available to you, so it may well be worth the download time. On the other other hand, MacPython is is a very elegant Mac-centric program.

So here instead is a relatively small set of downloads which gives a functioning Python (MacPython), a nice development environment (PythonIDE), Numerical Python, and plotting (using Gnuplot). Pretty much everything I want except for Scipy. The following instructions use the terminal application, which is located in /Applications/Utilities.