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Distribute is a project that tries to think about how distutils can evolve

Interesting discussion are happening in distutils-SIG. You can read the threads

This page tries to synthetizes these threads and see what could be done to improve package managment in Python.

It is not clear right now if a new development will happen outside distutils or not. But this page can be the place where we structure things and decide of the best plan.

Another great ressource to get the whole picture is Kevin Teague's post in Django Mailing list.

Chris Withers made a presentation called Python Package Management Sucks at PyCon Uk in september 2008.

Related Docs

Related PEPs

What do we have today ?

Distutils

This is a really high-level view of Distutils. It is just made to understand its mechanisms, so if you are not used to it you can get it.

Right now in Python, Distutils provides a set of commands to create a distribution of your package. It uses a set of metadata that describes the package and build an archive with the source code. These metadata are described in PEP 345.

Distutils uses "commands" that can be combined to build various distributions. These commands are invoked through the command line, as long as the package provides the distutils-enable setup.py file, but that is conventionnaly the case:

$ cd my_python_package
$ python setup.py COMMAND

So basically, building a source distribution is done by calling "sdist":

$ cd my_python_package
$ python setup.py sdist

"sdist" calls other commands ("low level" commands) and builds an archive in the "dist" directory.

From there, someone who wants to install a package can get the source distribution, and run the "install" command:

$ wget http://example.com/my_python_package.tgz
$ tar -xzvf my_python_package.tgz
$ cd my_python_package
$ python setup.py install

This command will inject the package into Python's site-packages so it is installed.

There are other commands available to make various flavors to distribute your package. Binary distributions, and even OS-specific distributions, like RPM, that maps some metadata to the RPM system ones.

Distutils is also used to upload you package to PyPI or any website that implements the protocol. Some PyPI-enabled websites are starting to be launched. For instance plone.org is about to switch its products center to a PyPI-enabled system.

So developers sends their package like this

$ python setup.py register sdist upload

This command registers the package to PyPI, builds a source archive, and upload it.

Python 2.6 has been changed so you can do it with any website and several accounts, like this for instance:

$ python setup.py register sdist upload -r plone.org

Setuptools

Setuptools can be seen as an enhancement of Distutils. It does a lot of things, and this section will not present everything. You might want to read Phillip's page on the project.

But basically it adds 4 major features a lot of people use:

real-world example

Zope used setuptools namespace feature to split its huge code base into small packages. For instance zope.interface is distributed as a single package and has its own developement cycle. In a way, Instead of downloading one 100MB package called Zope that contains the whole zope.* source tree, you download 100 packages of 1MB. And zope.whatever can use the new version of zope.interface, without having to wait for a 6 months-based release of Zope.

So zope.whatever, declares in its setup.py environment zope.interface, with the right version:

setup(name='zope.whatever',
      ...
      install_requires=['zope.interface>=1.2.4']
      ...
      )

This will tell Setuptools that zope.whatever needs zope.interface 1.2.4 or higher to work.

And if you try to install it, Setuptools will check if it is installed. If not it will try to get it at PyPI and instal it.

Paver

Paver subsumes the build tool portion of distutils/setuptools. It allows python programmers to use all of the setuptools/distutils commands but makes it easy to add new commands and modify the existing ones. Extensibility is easy in both the declarative portion of the files (adding new pieces of information about a package) and the imperative portion (adding new commands to perform.)

Converting a simple setup.py that only has declarations to a pavement.py file is trivial.

http://www.blueskyonmars.com/projects/paver

Defend Against Fruit

Defend Against Fruit is focused on providing a pragmatic, continuous deployment style build system for Python. Current Python build systems do not properly account for the needs of effective continuous deployment. This package extends the Python tooling to add the missing pieces.

With an eye to agile development principles and fast-feedback, we want a build system which satisfies the following goals:

For in-depth documentation with lots of pretty diagrams, take a look at the wiki.

Other tools

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What is good ?

Distutils

xxx

Setuptools

xxx

Other tools

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What is wrong ?

Distutils

The problems in distutils that where listed by people:

Setuptools

xxx

Other tools

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What can we do today ?

Distutils

Setuptools

xxx

Other tools

xxx

What's next ?

BUILDS is the code name of project for a "Build Utilities, Installation Locations, & Distribution Standards" (BUILDS) specification. As part of this specification, the PythonPackagingTerminology page documents the terms used in the Python packaging ecosystem.

Create a web resource that documents the existing Python packaging ecosystem, tools and practices to make it easier for people to learn about how they can better manage their Python packaging needs.

Design discussions:

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