Bob Ippolito and I have been talking about working on distutils dependency support while at PyCon. The subject has recently come up on both the Zope3-Dev and Twisted mailing lists, with respect to being able to:
1) break up monolithic systems (PEAK, Zope, Twisted) into smaller package sets with dependencies
2) allow dependencies on other systems (e.g. Twisted using PyProtocols, PEAK using zope.publisher, etc.)
3) support painless install for end users (single command to download and install "everything needed") even at the cost of a little pain for the packager(s).
4) allow dependencies on packages that were packaged with the distutils, but not specifically designed to work with the dependency system. In other words, if I want to depend on package X, I should not need to bug package X's author, I should be able to "just do it".
5) Support Python 2.2, while not requiring changes to the distutils, but being a possible candidate for upgrades to the distutils in 2.4.
If there's a group that would like to sprint to produce working deliverables for one or more aspects of this problem area (and I think PIMP/PackMan shows that solutions are within reach), I'd like to get some schedule commitments so I can plan a trip. I wasn't originally planning to go to PyCon this year, but I will come if it means we can get this thing implemented.
If there is sufficient interest, let's take this to an appropriate mailing list (perhaps distutils-sig?) and Wiki to put together a detailed set of stories, as long as we can prioritize the list according to the needs of the folks who will be doing the development.
If you're interested in participating in such a sprint, please let me know ASAP, so I can make travel arrangements. Thanks.
(Please reply to me personally rather than to the list(s); I will summarize and post an announcement of where to direct further discussion, if there's enough interest to get this off the ground. Thanks!)