[Distutils] Expectations on how pip needs to change for Python 3.4

Chris Barker - NOAA Federal chris.barker at noaa.gov
Mon Jul 15 18:47:05 CEST 2013

On Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 12:59 PM, Paul Moore <p.f.moore at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 2. This sounds like something that needs fixed on Windows. Even if you say
>> ``-m`` for pip then things are still broken by default for any other package
>> on PyPI that installs a script. So this feels like something wrong with
>> Python on windows not wrong with the script approach.
> It is, and it should be fixed. But in many years, nobody has managed to come
> up with an acceptable solution.

I don't _think_ this is just Windows Bashing: MS has done very very
little to improve the whole command line experience on Windows over
the years. For example, as far as I now, even with Windows 7 (8), the
standard system tool to edit PATH is a very, very old little text box
that only holds maybe 50 characters -- it's really painful and
pathetic. That, and I think the really, really old way of editing
autoexec.bat is dead (editing a text file is easier than a really
lousy GUI)

All that is a way to say that Python can only make it so easy for
Windows users, but what's in place is not bad, and it really makes
sense for pip to use what's been there for ages, i.e. a command called
"pip" (and pip2, pip3...) that sits in the same place that all other
third-party Pyton "scripts" are installed. No matter how you slice it,
a user will need to put that on their PATH one way or another.

Of course, what MS is telling us is: don't rely on the command line!
So a really nice thing to do for Windows users would be to provide a
little GUI pip tool that's part of the standard install. (not that I'm
volunteering to write it...has no none yet written a tkInter-bsed pip

the current setuptools exe-wrapper feels really kludgy, but it works
-- it seems the only real problematic issue is the self-update problem
-- maybe there is a Windows guru somewhere that can fix that....

> The debates seem to be largely around what
> happens if you install multiple versions of Python and then remove some of
> them, and how badly your system PATH gets messed up by this.

Is this any better on *nix? When I use the OS-X installers, after a
while, I get a pretty klunky pile-up of PATH-manipulating stuf in my

> * Accept that Windows is a problem in this regard, but don't worry about it
> - install executable wrappers/scripts and let the user deal with path
> issues.

not so bad, really

> It would be nice to get feedback from "normal users" on this. I suspect that
> the scientific community would make a good cross-section (AIUI there's quite
> a lot of Windows use, and for many people in the community Python is very
> much a tool, rather than a way of life :-)).

True -- note that there are now two commercial pyton distributions
(Enthought Canopy, and Continuum Anaconda) that heavily used by the
scipy community -- they both provide their own package distribution
solutions (though ship pip, too, i'm pretty sure). The demand for
those tells us something about packaging....

> Does anyone have links into the
> scipy groups?

Yes, but I don't know that post from me would get you anything that
that post from a core pip-developer wouldn't get -- I'd post on the
numpy list for best access to developers, maybe scipy and/or
matplotlib for more it's-just-a-tool-to-me users. iPython's not a bad
option for folks concerned about user experience, as well.



Christopher Barker, Ph.D.

Emergency Response Division
NOAA/NOS/OR&R            (206) 526-6959   voice
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Chris.Barker at noaa.gov

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