TL;DR: OK to archive this mailing list? Reply by Aug 30th.
Below: Context, Proposal, Reasoning, and timeline.
For multiple years now, we've been advising users to use setuptools and
to move away from using distutils. There has been a long standing
plan [^1] to vendor distutils into setuptools to allow it to evolve
independently of the Python standard library and to allow for removal of
distutils from the Python standard library.
Recently, setuptools adopted the distutils [^2] which, as far as I can
tell, starts the long process of removing distutils from the Python
standard library. PEP 517 [^3] also removed the special status of
distutils/setuptools as the only pipeline that can be used for
generating distributions for Python projects.
For some time now, "distutils" has not been a "primary" tool in the
broader Python Packaging ecosystem, with setuptools being an overall
superior tool that also has a good interoperability story with the other
Python packaging tooling. This is acknowledged in the description of
this mailing list as:
> Now, it's better described as the "packaging interoperability SIG",
> where issues that cut across different parts of the Python packaging
> ecosystem get discussed and resolved.
However, this mailing list is no longer serving this stated role either,
with the Packaging category on discuss.python.org becoming the primary
location for packaging tool interoperability discussions.
Over the last year, the Packaging category on discuss.python.org had 841
active topics, with only 40 topics with 3 or fewer responses. [^5]
In the last 100 days, the Packaging category on discuss.python.org has
had 91 active topics. More than 10 PEPs have been discussed in the
Packaging category on discuss.python.org in the last 100 days.
Over the last year, distutils-sig had ~109 active threads, with
(based on a quick skim) most having 3 or fewer responses/posters. [^4]
In the last 100 days, distutils-sig has had 32 active threads (at least
7 of these have the same subject as another thread with Re:/Fwd: added).
There has been only 1 PEP-related feedback discussion on distutils-sig
in the last year. Most of the other threads are user support requests or
I suggest that, one month from now, we stop posting to this list
(email@example.com) and archive it.
I think we do not use this mailing list for its dedicated purpose, and
it does not serve any secondary function that isn't better served by a
different communication channel already.
(1) this mailing list is no longer the primary location for
(2) we have better channels for user support requests (such as
issue trackers of various projects, packaging-problems etc.)
(3) we have other channels for making announcements (such as the
pypi-announce mailing list, the PyPA twitter account,
Here's what I suggest, and what I will carry out if there is no
In one month, on August 30th, I would verify that no one has argued here
for why this mailing list should not be closed/archived.
Or, even if a few people have objected to closing the list, I would
check for rough consensus, especially of people who are doing SOMETHING
productive having to do with Python Packaging (such as maintainers of
Python packages, maintainers of Python Packaging tooling, folks running
key infrastructure, etc.).
Then, I would request the list administrators to post a final message
to this list (marking its close and suggesting that people use
discuss.python.org instead) and, to archive this mailing list. This
would leave archives available at their current URLs, so links, browsing
and search would work.
And finally, I would look through relevant documentation within PyPA
repositories to see what needs updating (READMEs and so on pointing to
the old list), and submit pull requests.
I appreciate the work folks here have done to carry forward Python
packaging over the past 21 years of this mailing list. I don't mean to
diminish that or to insult anyone here. I want to help us out, and I
think closing this list will help focus our energy better. But I am
open to hearing that I am wrong.