[Python-Dev] 2.3rc2 IDLE problems on a Win2000sp3 box

Anna Ravenscroft anna@aleax.it
Sat, 26 Jul 2003 18:38:27 +0200

On Saturday 26 July 2003 06:05 pm, Alex Martelli wrote:
> On Saturday 26 July 2003 05:56 pm, Tim Peters wrote:
> > Noting that someone on the Tutor list running a "personal firewall" kind
> > of program was disturbed because it reported that 2.3c1 IDLE was trying
> > to access the Internet at startup.  They were concerned about why IDLE
> > would be reporting *anything* about them to another machine.
> >
> > I confess I had the same question when I first tried the new IDLE on
> > Win98SE, and ZoneAlarm raised an eyebrow.  Of course I looked at the
> > source and saw then it was only talking to localhost, but for some reason
> > it didn't occur to me that anyone else might wonder about this too.
> >
> > It's obvious that gazillions of Windows users will wonder about it.  If
> > anyone has an idea about where to put a reassuring explanation that a
> > panicky Windows user is likely to read, don't be shy.
> Just brainstorming...: in the Windows installer (if a suitable place can be
> found); in the README most definitely (SOME users, albeit a minority,
> will have a look at the README -- far fewer than will think to look at
> the IDLE sources or be able to make sense of them); in the "what's
> new" doc; in the IDLE docs; ... (not intended to be mutually exclusive).
> More ideas, anybody?
> Alex

Alex just explained to me what this situation is about and I'm very concerned. 

As a sometime Windows user, I installed Python on my computer at work as well 
as on my Linux box at home. If, in starting IDLE, I had seen a message like 
ya'll are talking about, I'd have assumed that Python/IDLE had decided to 
follow the example of some of our closed source villains and was attempting 
to send some kind of personal information about my system to someone 
somewhere. This would have stopped me in my tracks, especially since I was 
running it at work. 

I think this needs to be dealt with as a very serious issue - the use of 
sockets for coprocesses in the new IDLE desperately needs to be explained 
clearly for the uninitiated, and a notice on the FRONT PAGE of python.org 
should be prominently displayed, imho, with a link to the fuller 
NEWBIE-friendly explanation. I *also* agree with Aahz's idea of a 
reassuringly-worded pop-up that handles the problem quietly. 

Please - don't blow this off - there are a lot of (justifiably or not) 
paranoid people out there who may be tentatively exploring programming via 
Python and this kind of thing could really scare them off. There are also a 
lot ot potential pythonistas who *dont'* understand sockets but still want to 
learn Python. (For example, I saw a number of pythonistas at the tutorial on 
sockets and other networking issues at OSCON, so I know that not all 
pythonistas understand sockets.) If we simply ignore this issue - we're 
likely to lose people over it. And I would find that a sad thing. 

Anna Ravenscroft