[Distutils] Some clarifications and/or corrections to PEP 376

Paul Moore p.f.moore at gmail.com
Fri Jan 4 11:45:44 CET 2013

On 4 January 2013 09:37, Chris McDonough <chrism at plope.com> wrote:
> I've never really understood the idea that mere installation of a
> distribution should need to write to completely arbitrary locations on
> the filesystem.  Personally, if the software in my distribution needs
> things to be put in places that aren't circumscribed by the install
> machinery (console scripts are an example of things that *are*
> circumscribed by the install machinery) I'll ship the distribution with
> a script (often a console script) that people can run that does the
> needful, but this never runs during installation.

I agree - on Windows, I would generally consider a package that
installed anything outside of the Python installation to be pretty
much broken (it wouldn't work properly in a virtualenv, for example).
The problem seems to be that Unix/Linux packaging experts seem to have
differing views (in particular around FHS-related concerns). I don't
understand these issues well enough to comment, other than to say that
even among the Unix community there does not seem to be consensus that
there is a need for installation to write outside of site-packages.

I do - very occasionally - take a Python installation and move it (for
example onto a pen drive). It's no longer a "properly installed"
Python, agreed, but for pretty much all practical purposes it still
works and I wouldn't like to see that change as a result of absolute
paths being mandated in a standard.

I'm -1 on absolute paths. Sure, there's an issue with installing files
no locations outside the Python installation, but I'd suggest (1)
deprecating such usage, and (2) using absolute paths there. An
install-time warning might be useful, if it's easy to do. Vinay - does
your analysis of PyPI give any indication of what proportion of
packages actually use the ability to install to arbitrary locations?
I.e., how much of a real world issue is this?


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