[Distutils] [Catalog-sig] packaging terminology confusion

Glyph Lefkowitz glyph at twistedmatrix.com
Fri Jan 8 07:50:38 CET 2010


On Jan 7, 2010, at 10:43 PM, John Gabriele wrote:

> 3. People don't like calling those MyProject-1.0.2.tgz thingies
> "distributions". They keep calling them packages, and when you correct
> them, they say, "[sigh], fine. [eyes roll] 'distribution'."

This is not my experience of the term.  It's more that most people *still* don't know what the term "distribution" means in this context, unless they've extensively read the distutils documentation.  Or that they're talking about Python "distributions" at the same time as what Linux distributions are doing with them, and are trying to avoid being ambiguous.

It sure would be nice if we could use a made-up word like "eggs" to refer to these things.  Too bad that's taken too :-\.

> So, here's a suggestion: just call both things (packages and
> distributions) "packages", but then agree to fully qualify the names
> when you need to avoid ambiguity, for example: "I just built a
> distribution-package (or "dist-package" for short) and included
> numerous module-packages in it."

Except, oops, "dist-package" *also* already has a conflicting jargon meaning as well.  This is what Ubuntu calls "packages distributed by the Linux distribution", i.e. Ubuntu or Debian.  See, for example, <https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/bazaar/2009q1/054089.html>.  Given that they introduced the term specifically to disambiguate between the things Python already calls "distributions", it seems like introducing the same term to refer to the thing that they were originally talking about would have the opposite effect of what you intend.

Consulting a thesaurus yields one word that nobody has proposed yet: "Parcel".  Helpfully, it still starts with "P", so we could rename it the "Python Parcel Index".  I have a dim memory hearing this word in a jargon-y context before, but it's certainly considerably more obscure than "package", "distribution", "archive", et cetera.

Anybody else like that one?
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