[Distutils] distribute and setuptools are fighting; my application is a casualty

Asheesh Laroia asheesh at asheesh.org
Wed Oct 6 21:48:22 CEST 2010

Hey all,

Despite the dramatic subject line, I'm willing to be patient, friendly, 
and flexible. I'm just trying to figure out the best way to do something 
that used to work.

I have a (open source) (web) application at http://openhatch.org/ (code at 
"git clone git://code.openhatch.org/milestone-a.git") that uses 
bootstrap.py. Since a year ago, I used bootstrap.py plus zc.buildout to 
provide a mini environment for my application.

Recently, that stopped working properly. A contributor ran "bootstrap.py" 
as a regular user on Ubuntu 10.04, and got this error 
<https://openhatch.org/bugs/msg475>. I'm using ... to skip parts but you 
can see the full message at the link.

 	karen at laesa:~/Code/milestone-a$ python2.6 bootstrap.py
 	Getting distribution for 'distribute'.
 	Setuptools installation detected at /usr/lib/python2.6/dist-packages
 	Already patched.
 	/usr/lib/python2.6/dist-packages/setuptools.egg-info already patched.
 	After install bootstrap.
 	Permission denied

At this point it gives up:

 	An error occurred when trying to install distribute 0.6.14. Look above
 	this message for any errors that were output by easy_install.

The buildout is being done by a user who isn't root, so it's 
straightforward that the user cannot modify /usr/local/lib/*. I thought 
the nice thing about buildout was that it didn't require mutating the 
system's state (and therefore doesn't require to be run as root). The only 
way I've found to fix this is to ask people to "sudo easy_install 
distribute". I'm okay putting that in the docs, but I want to make sure 
that people don't run into this situation by accident.

I can reproduce it on my Debian desktop, too, if I do "pip uninstall 
distribute" and then try to run bootstrap.py.

So my question is -- what should I do now? Should I provide a modified 
bootstrap.py in my application that detects that the user needs to "sudo 
easy_install distribute"? If so, what does that code look like?

(I've tried using the distribute.py from 
http://bitbucket.org/tarek/buildout-distribute/src/tip/bootstrap.py and 
get the same error.)

Honestly confused, and seeking help,

-- Asheesh.

P.S. I feel like a child whose parents are fighting, and while the 
argument takes place, I sit hungry waiting for dinner. See also 

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first.
 		-- Blaise Pascal

More information about the Distutils-SIG mailing list