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conda doctor: Detecting conda environment inconsistencies easily

· 3 min read
Mahe Iram Khan

The newest conda doctor command will be available with the latest conda 23.5.0, enabling conda users to quickly detect corrupted packages (packages with files missing) in their conda environment.

One way packages in an environment may become corrupt is when one or more files in that package are accidentally deleted. Even a single missing file leads to a corrupted package. Until now there was no way to learn of these missing files except manually checking for their existence. With conda doctor, users can learn about all such packages in their conda environment with a single short command.

How Does It Work?

Every conda environment has a conda-meta directory associated with it, which keeps a log of all the packages (and all the files in them) ever installed into that environment. conda doctor parses these metadata files, checks for the existence of each of the listed files, and reports the missing ones. This is extremely helpful, as it is otherwise very difficult to know that a package has missing files and to detect these missing files in the package.

The Plugin Mechanism

conda doctor is implemented using conda’s new plugins mechanism, utilizing the "subcommand plugin hook", and comes bundled with conda itself.

Often the issues that conda users run into are issues in their conda environment. The idea behind implementing a conda doctor command is to "diagnose" the inconsistencies in a conda environment and report to the user, therefore empowering the user to better understand the cause of the issues they are experiencing.

A Nine Year Old Issue

What’s interesting is that this feature was requested by Peter Wang, the CEO of Anaconda, nine years ago in the early days of conda. A number of features requested via this conda doctor issue back then ended up being implemented elsewhere in conda over the years. conda doctor was eventually boiled down to “a command that will diagnose the health of the environment and report inconsistencies to the user”.

Health Checks

We designed the conda doctor functionality to have various “health checks” for the user’s environment. The first health check implemented and made available to users in this release is “detect missing files in packages”. More health checks will be made available in conda doctor in future releases. Go check out the new conda doctor command and do let us know of any “health checks” you would like conda doctor to have that would improve your conda experience. You can do so by opening a feature request on the conda GitHub repository.