[Distutils] Time for a setuptools_lite??

Chris Barker chris.barker at noaa.gov
Wed Oct 21 12:42:02 EDT 2015

This is kind-of related to the othe thread:

"Remove distutils, was: ..."

But more specific, so I thought I'd start a new one.

Here are my thoughts:

We had distutils -- there was a lot it didn't do that the "Masses" needed,
so setuptools was born. It proved to be useful to a lot of people, and grew
a large userbase....

But a lot was "wrong" with setuptools -- most prominently (in my mind
anyway) that it put too many kind-sorta orthogonal stuff into one package:
building, installing, distributing, managing version, managing
dependencies, managing non-python resources, (and others??). And we didn't
like how easy-install installed things :-)

So distribute, and pip, and wheel, and now a new backward compatible
setuptools was born.

But we still have a bunch of should be orthogonal stuff tangled up
together. In particular, I find that I often find easy-install getting
invoked when I don't want ot to, and I get those darn eggs scattered all
over the place, and easy_install.pth, and ????

I think if I am really careful about what I invoke when, this could be
avoided, but the reality is that I've been dealing with this for years, and
am trying desperately to do things the "right, modern" way, and I still get
ugliness. I seriously doubt that I am alone.

So -- here's my thought:

I think we have it pretty well mapped out what functionality belongs where:

one system for building packages (setuptools?)
one system for installing packages and managing dependencies (pip)
one system (really standard) for metadata and distributing packages (wheel)

[I'm just whipping this out off the top of my head, I'm sure we'd need to
more clearly define what belongs where]

So why not have a setuptools-lite that only does the building? We need to
keep the full over-burdened setuptools around, because lot sof folks are
using those features. But for those of us that are doing something fairly
new, and don't want to use stuff that setuptools "shouldn't" be doing, I'd
love to have a setuptools-lite that only did what I really need, and was
guaranteed NOT to accidentally introduce easy_install, etc...

This seems to me to be a way to go forward -- as it is we'll have people
using setuptools features that they "shouldn't" forever, and never be able
to move to a cleaner system.

Or maybe a flag:

import setuptools

That would make the dependencies easier -- i.e. pip depends on some of
setuptools being there -- hard to say that it needs either setuptools OR

Maybe I'm missing something here, but if the goal is for there to be one
way to do things, let's have a tool chain that only does things one way.....



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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