On 28 May 2015 at 16:58, Barry Warsaw <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> On May 28, 2015, at 11:39 AM, Donald Stufft wrote:
>>You don’t need a "fully functioning Python" for a single file binary, you
>>only need enough to actually run your application. For example, if you're
>>making an application that can download files over HTTP, you don't need to
>>include parts of the stdlib like xmlrpc, pickle, shelve, marshall, sqlite,
>>csv, email, mailcap, mailbox, imaplib, nntplib, etc.
> There are actually two related but different use cases to "single file
> The first is nicely solved by tools like pex, where you don't need to include
> a fully functional Python at the head of the zip file because the environment
> you're deploying it into will have enough Python to make the zip work. This
> can certainly result in smaller zip files. This is the approach I took with
> Snappy Ubuntu Core support for Python 3, based on the current situation that
> the atomic upgrade client is written in Python 3. If that changes and Python
> 3 is removed from the image, then this approach won't work.
> pex (and others) does a great job at this, so unless there are things better
> refactored into upstream Python, I don't think we need to do much here.
One problem with pex is that it doesn't appear to work on Windows (I
just gave it a try, and got errors because it relies on symlinks).
IMO, any solution to "distributing Python applications" that is
intended to compete with the idea that "go produces nice single-file
executables" needs to be cross-platform. At the moment, zipapp (and in
general, the core support for running applications from a zip file)
handles this for the case where you're allowed to assume an already
installed Python interpreter. The proviso here, as Donald pointed out,
is that it doesn't handle C extensions.
The biggest problem with 3rd-party solutions is that they don't always
support the full range of platforms that Python supports. That's fine
for a 3rd party tool, but if we want to have a response to people
asking how to bundle their application written in Python, we need a
better answer than "if you're on Windows, use py2exe, or if you're on
Unix use pex, or maybe..."
Python has core support for the equivalent of Java's jar format in
zipapp. It's not well promoted (and doesn't support C extensions) but
it's a pretty viable option for a lot of situations.
> The second use case is as you describe: put a complete functional Python
> environment at the head of the zip file so you don't need anything in the
> target deployment environment. "Complete" can easily mean the entire stdlib,
> and although that would usually be more bloated than you normally need, hey,
> it's just some extra unused bits so who cares? <wink>. I think this would be
> an excellent starting point which can be optimized to trim unnecessary bits
> later, maybe by third party tools.
Tools like py2exe and cx_Freeze do this, and are pretty commonly used
on Windows. An obvious example of use is Mercurial. If you're looking
at this scenario, a good place to start would probably be
understanding why cx_Freeze isn't more commonly used on Unix (AFAIK,
it supports Unix, but I've only ever really heard of it being used on
I suspect "single file executables" just aren't viewed as a desirable
solution on Unix. Although Donald referred to a 4K binary, which
probably means just a stub exe that depends on system-installed .so
files, likely including Python (I'm just guessing here). It's easy to
do something similar on Windows, but it's *not* what most Windows
users think of when you say a "single file executable for a Python
program" (because there's no system package manager doing dependencies
Again, platform-specific answers are one thing, and are relatively
common, but having a good cross-platform answer at the language level
(a section on docs.python.org "How to ship your Python program") is
>>Of course deciding which pieces you include in the zip file you're appending
>>to the end of Python is up to whatever tool builds this executable which
>>doesn't need to be part of Python itself. If Python itself gained the ability
>>to operate in that manner than third party tools could handle trying to do
>>the optimizations where it only includes the things it actually needs in the
>>stdlib and excludes things it doesn't. The key thing here is that since
>>you're doing a single file binary, you don't need to have a Python which is
>>suitable to execute random Python code, you only need one that is suitable to
>>execute this particular code so you can specialize what that includes.
> I'd love to see Python itself gain such a tool, but if it had the critical
> pieces to execute in this way, that would enable a common approach to
> supporting this in third party tools, on a variety of platforms.
Stripping out unused code is a hard problem in a language as dynamic
as Python. It would be great to see it happen, but I'm not sure how
much better we can do than existing tools like modulefinder. (consider
that stripping out parts of the stdlib is the same in principle as
stripping out unused bits of a 3rd party library like requests - when
this issue comes up, people often talk about slimming down the stdlib
to just what's needed, but why not take out the json support from
requests if you don't use it?)
> I do think single-file executables are an important piece to Python's
> long-term competitiveness.
Agreed. But also, I think that "single-file" executables
(single-directory, in practice) are *already* important - as I say,
for projects like Mercurial. Doing better is great, but we could do
worse than start by asking the Mercurial/TortoiseHg project and others
what are the problems with the current situation that changes to the
core could help to improve. I doubt "please make pythonXY.zip 50%
smaller" would be the key issue :-)