[Distutils] PEX at Twitter (re: PEX - Twitter's multi-platform executable archive format for Python)

Vinay Sajip vinay_sajip at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Feb 1 17:50:31 CET 2014

On Sat, 1/2/14, Donald Stufft <donald at stufft.io> wrote:

> Additionally I'd point out that, looking at how you've
> implemented it, it seems to depend on the fact that distil
> is a single file and thus doesn't need installed into
> site-packages.

No, I don't believe that's the case - I developed (and continue to
develop) distil without running it as a single-file executable, since
most of its code is in a zip when deployed as a single file, so not
readily debuggable. The deployment of distil as a single file, though
seen by some as controversial (because unusual), is merely
meant as a convenience. Any other deployment mechanism would
mean using pip to install it, which kind of defeats the purpose :-)

> Finally I haven't touched distil because you've been less then
> forthcoming about it's own code. I realize it's just using zip tech
>  to bundle it and thus I can unpack it and read it but:

Well, it takes less commitment to try it out as a black box and report
failures or usability drawbacks than to dig into its source code, but
there hasn't been a lot of feedback, so I really doubt if that's a big
barrier to people trying it out. I don't believe pip users spend a lot of
time looking into pip source code.

As you say, the code is inspectable, though not as readily as it
would be if it were on GitHub, say. I haven't given particular thought
to the license since I haven't published it, but there's no conspiracy
to keep anything secret or proprietary, and nothing is obfuscated.

I've been looking for usability feedback and some of the features are
still experimental (not so much on the installation side, more on the
build side), so it's premature to open it up fully: I'm not looking for code
contributions, as distil is still a test-bed for distlib and some ideas
about how to improve the user experience. If that means some people
lose interest, I'm OK with that: I've contributed plenty to open source and
I expect to continue to do so. I just don't subscribe to the idea that
somehow everything magically gets better when it's put on GitHub.

Note that distlib is licensed under a valid OSS license, but it hasn't
made much difference in terms of the amount of feedback I've


Vinay Sajip

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