So I decided to give a try to the free deep learning course published on fast.ai. The first lesson was not too difficult for me as half on it was about setting up things. The other half were mostly things I already knew about deep learning, but it was refreshing to see how things are actually done with real code.
The course recommends AWS, but stingy me didn't want to pay anything nor going through the registration process. Instead I was determined to make the samples run on my MacMini, hoping performance won't be too bad.
Anaconda is a package manager for Python which has the goal to easily provide a scientific environment.
It can be installed with
Homebrew and Cascroom should be installed on every developers Mac. Check out the links if you do not have them installed yet.
After typing a simple
brew casc install anaconda, brew will download and setup Anaconda for you.
A link to the GUI is also added in your Launchpad, you can find it by looking for
From there, Jupyter, which is extensively used in the course can be launched easily.
A browser tab to Jupyter, which is a web application will be conveniently opened.
The course depends on a lot of libraries and most, but not all of them are included by default.
The GUI makes it easy to install new packages but first we need to add a new channel to Anaconda.
Channels are the Anaconda equivalent to repositories in
yum and make even more packages available when added.
A channel can be added by editing the
.condarc file in your home directory.
For the course, we additionally need the
Here is the new
channels: - defaults - conda-forge ssl_verify: true
From the Anaconda GUI, the package index can now be updated by clicking
Update Index... in the environment tab.
Next, the following packages become available and can be installed:
Python 3 and Keras 2 support
Turns out that things still do not run properly when downloading the official code. The reason is that the current Anaconda runs on Python3 and has Keras2 installed instead of the required Python2 and Keras1.
I started to adjust code and after fixing a few imports and renamed functions I thought that probably somebody else did this work already.
Very few searches later, I found a nice repository where all the porting work has been done already.
Perfect. It even includes a
keras.json file that can be copied to
~/.keras/keras.json with additionally needed settings.
Cats vs Dogs!
The last things that is needed is the cats and dogs dataset.
It must be downloaded and extracted in a directory called
data next to the Jupyter notebooks that use it.
cd .../nbs # wherever your notebooks are stored mkdir data cd data wget http://files.fast.ai/data/dogscats.zip unzip dogscats.zip rm dogscats.zip
All preparation done! Everything worked great.
Straight to the point: Yes, you need a GPU! Working with the sample set is generally fast enough but feeding the complete set into the network took several hours on my MacMini.
Well, that was kind of expected. But it is still great to be able to setup things without paying or registering anywhere.