[Distutils] Distributing Python-programs to Ubuntu users

Olof Bjarnason olof.bjarnason at gmail.com
Fri Sep 25 11:35:53 CEST 2009

2009/9/25 Ben Finney <ben+python at benfinney.id.au>:
> Thanks for moving the discussion to this forum, where it's better
> suited. I'll reprise my existing reply again here for this new thread.
> Olof Bjarnason <olof.bjarnason at gmail.com> writes:
>> I'm new at the mailing list. I write small games in Python/PyGame. I
>> want to find a way to make a downloadable package/installer/script to
>> put on my webpage, especially for Ubuntu users.
> The primary means of distributing your work to the outside world should,
> first, be a working Distutils ‘sdist’ (“source distribution”). This
> allows the work to be installed via ‘python ./setup.py install’, with
> installation options customisable by those users who want to do so.
> An important set of users who might (read “will”) want to customise
> installation options is that set of users who can package your work for
> specific distributions. They will take the Distutils configuration as a
> starting point, and apply OS-specific packaging from that point.
> You would do well to be familiar with the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard
> <URL:http://www.pathname.com/fhs/> and specifications for desktop
> applications <URL:http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Specifications> as
> they apply to whatever programs you're making. Many aspects of these
> (Especially of the FHS) are taken care of for you by the Distutils
> infrastructure, but many are not.
>> I've skimmed a couple of tutorials on how to generate .deb-files, but,
>> wow, it's a whole new skill set to do that!
> Right. It's a separate body of research, learning, and discipline to
> make packages that operate smoothly on a particular operating system. If
> you're not interested in that, please don't do a half-hearted job;
> instead, focus on making a great program, and leave the job of making a
> great package to someone better placed to do it.
>> Does anyone have any hint on a more economic way of creating
>> single-file distribution packages for Python+PyGame projects? Maybe
>> some GUI-tool that automates the .deb file creation process, but
>> targetting Python specifically and not C++.
> Those tools that exist do more harm than good, in my opinion: they
> either do very little to help, or they necessarily make guesses about
> the right thing to do. The policies and specifications change from time
> to time, and such automated tools cannot hope to be both comprehensive
> and up-to-date.
> As someone who has some familiarity with the OS packaging process, I
> would beg you not to make OS-specific packages without a good, current
> understanding of the OS packaging policy you're targeting. If that
> doesn't sound like fun, just concentrate on making your program great,
> standards-compliant, and responsive to bug reports — especially from OS
> package maintainers. That will make it much more attractive and give a
> much better change of having a good range of OS-specific packages.

Thanks for you long and thourough answer Ben!

So your proposed course of action is

1) learn distutils + setup.py ecosystem
2) concentrate on application itself, not packaging
3) make some kind of fast-feedback system to achieve (2)

I can see a conflict between (3) and (2) - since packaging is not
under my control all feedback will be severely delayed, from users of
my app. What is a good approach to minimize time from release to

I agree in general with your remarks, it's just that fast feedback is
one of the most important things to have for game (or any app for that

> --
>  \            “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.” |
>  `\                       —Melvin Kranzberg's First Law of Technology |
> _o__)                                                                  |
> Ben Finney
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