[Distutils] [Fwd: Re: Annoucing distribute project]

Tarek Ziadé ziade.tarek at gmail.com
Thu Sep 25 22:59:17 CEST 2008

On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 7:36 PM, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:

> I don't think anyone loves distutils, or even likes it. Unfortunately
> replacing it will be very tough, because distutils has arcane but
> important knowledge built into it about many platforms, and a new
> from-scratch system is unlikely to reach that level of coverage for
> years. There's also the issue that it's not enough to roll out the
> replacement with a new version of Python -- it would leave everyone
> using the old distutils in the lurch. It's a prime example of the
> network effect: until everyone owns one, nobody will want to own one.
> The best strategy I can think of would be to gradually rewrite the
> existing distutils, remaining compatible but also offering new APIs,
> and 5 years hence maybe the installed base will be close enough to
> 100% that developers writing setup scripts will start using the new
> features. That's how AJAX conquered the world.

It looks like you are describing setuptools in some ways: it was written
on the top of distutils and provided enhancements and new features.

But in the meantime distutils itself did not evolve.

As far as I know, within the last year, one of the only new feature in
distutils was the one
I have proposed (multiple servers support in .pypirc).  But it was really
hard to get
my change make it in because most  Python core developers have a lack of
interest for
distutils. It took me 8 months iirc.

Furthermore there are many things to change in this module to make it use
Python before starting to add new features. (like logging usage but this is
just an

My point is that I am afraid not much will happen if something doesn't start
outside Python

Right now there's a momentum in the community, including framework gurus,
that are
willing to work on a new distutils package. They are not core developers but
they are really
good in distribution matters. Even Phillip Eby said that starting a new
distutils could be a good
pick in this thread earlier.

Maybe a "distutils 2" project could start outside Python, using distutils
and setuptools code as
legacy infrastructure, and taking back pieces of it,

Then it could be re-integrated in Python as a replacement for distutils when
it is mature ?

My 2 cents :)

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