The python programming language gives you the option to install a large number of libraries and tools via which you have created a compelling answer to commercial tools such as matlab and IDL. Just python itself won't give you much extra. You need to have at least SciPy and matplotlib installed.
If you are in luck, they have been installed on your system.
If not, you can have a preview at the install script and tar balls here: . There are a few variables you may need to play with, depending what compilers you have.
A number of efforts are going on to help you put together your favorite python tools:
* EDP (enthought) * Astropysics * our own MIR/install/python.install script