[Distutils] What is the official position on distutils?

Robert Collins robertc at robertcollins.net
Sun Aug 28 15:43:11 EDT 2016

My sense of the current position is:

 - distutils exists for both Python and the broader ecosystem to build
both extension modules and package distributions
 - we recognise that its able to do anything, but many folk find it
hard to work with - or are already invested in other build tools
 - we're afraid of changing it in ways that cause incompatibilities
with e.g. the numpy eco systems heavy customisations, and we're not
sure we can recognise whether a given change is one of those
 - and we're recommending that everyone move away from directly using
distutils to using setuptoools - but setuptools *is* distutils in many
many ways, so this doesn't loosen our dependency and stability
considerations around distutils

So basically the normal 'module goes to the stdlib to freeze' effect.

I haven't read about Sylvain's proposed changes yet - ETHINGSTODO :(.

I can happily agree with a position that making distutils directly
usable is a non-goal... but insofar as making it more usable makes
setuptools more usable, that would be a goal :/.


On 29 August 2016 at 05:05, Brett Cannon <brett at python.org> wrote:
> The discussion of Sylvain's proposed changes to distutils suggests that
> there isn't a clear-cut agreement or position of this SIG -- and thus Python
> -- on changes to distutils, its future, etc. Is there an official position
> I'm not aware of? If not, could we get one so we know how to handle any more
> proposed changes to distutils?
> For me personally (and to start this conversation if necessary), I view
> distutils as the package in the stdlib that handles building extension
> modules in the stdlib for Python. That view means that if something doesn't
> service that explicit goal then it shouldn't go into distutils. Now that we
> are moving down the road towards making the build step configurable I'm fine
> with saying that distutils is not expected to work for people other than
> Python itself and others can use setuptools, enscons, or other projects
> while we continue to improve the situation to where the build system is just
> something you specify in pyproject.toml to generate your wheel. IOW
> distutils is only exposed publicly because Python doesn't hide anything, but
> making it useful for the general case of direct usage by people is a
> non-goal of the package.
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