Should conda, or conda-forge be used for Python environments?
conda-forge are both Python package managers. What is the appropriate choice when a package exists in both repositories? Django, for example, can be installed with either, but the difference between the two is several dependencies (conda-forge has many more). There is no explanation for these differences, not even a simple README.
Which one should be used? Conda or conda-forge? Does it matter?
The short answer is that, in my experience generally, it doesn't matter which you use.
The long answer:
conda-forge is an additional channel from which packages may be installed. In this sense, it is not any more special than the default channel, or any of the other hundreds (thousands?) of channels that people have posted packages to. You can add your own channel if you sign up at https://anaconda.org and upload your own Conda packages.
Here we need to make the distinction, which I think you're not clear about from your phrasing in the question, between
conda, the cross-platform package manager, and
conda-forge, the package channel. Anaconda Inc. (formerly Continuum IO), the main developers of the
conda software, also maintain a separate channel of packages, which is the default when you type
conda install packagename without changing any options.
There are two ways to change the options for channels. One is to specify a channel every time you install a package:
conda install -c some-channel packagename
Of course, the package has to exist on that channel. If you find yourself using the same channel often, then you might want to add it to your configuration. You can write
conda config --add channels some-channel
to add the channel
some-channel to the top of the
channels configuration list. This gives
some-channel the highest priority (priority determines (in part) which channel is selected when more than one channel has a particular package). To add the channel to the end of the list and give it the lowest priority, type
conda config --append channels some-channel
If you would like to remove the channel that you added, you can do so by writing
conda config --remove channels some-channel
conda config -h
for more options.
With all of that said, there are four main reasons to use the
conda-forge channel instead of the
defaults channel maintained by Anaconda:
- Packages on
conda-forgemay be more up-to-date than those on the
- There are packages on the
conda-forgechannel that aren't available from
- You would prefer to use a dependency such as
conda-forge) instead of
- If you are installing a package that requires a compiled library (e.g., a C extension or a wrapper around a C library), it may reduce the chance of incompatibilities if you install all of the packages in an environment from a single channel due to binary compatibility of the base C library (but this advice may be out of date/change in the future).