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

Antonio Cavallo a.cavallo at cavallinux.eu
Fri Jan 4 12:06:09 CET 2013

Absolute path do make some sense in different contexts.

For example a server (system wide installed) as administrator I'm 
expecting my config files to be under /etc.

As user ("personal") I'm expecting my config files (for the same 
application) could be under ~/.somewhere

A in-between could be the same application to be system wide installed 
(*but not configured system wide*) used as user so I'm expecting the 
config coming from merged between /etc and ~/.somewhere.

I'm saying this thinking of a unix box, windows pretty much follows the 
same pattern, macos is someway different (unles fink/macports aren't 
taken into account).

And I'm talking about **applications** (eg. some code + some library 
depending on an installed python stack) vs **libraries** (code simply 
installed along the current python stack).

So far I haven't seen anything like a graph (uml or just nice) of the 
different roles explained and discussed: reason why there've been so 
many failures in rewriting distutils in my humble opinion.

*better crawling in the right direction than running in the wrong one*


PS. There's  a the subtile (but very important) difference between 
installation and configuration: so far many fail to see it (until it 
bites them).

Paul Moore wrote:
> 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
> 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?
> Paul.
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