[Python-Dev] Fat vs lean distribution (was: SQLite)

Carlos Ribeiro carribeiro at gmail.com
Thu Oct 21 20:02:35 CEST 2004

On Thu, 21 Oct 2004 10:16:01 +0200, M.-A. Lemburg <mal at egenix.com> wrote:
> Maybe we should have this discussion on more general grounds:
> do we really want a fat Python distribution or should we focus
> more on making installation of third-party tools easier ?

Let me toss my .02 on this.

A lean distribution has one distinct feature: it not only allows, but
_forces_ the programmer to make explicit choices about what extensions
to use. Easy of installation from the network is not a big problem
IMHO -- I particularly see no problem with downloading packages for my
own development machine -- but *packaging for distribution* is much
more important to allow for easy deployment. On the other hand, fat
distributions tend to force people (consciously or not) to use only
the standard library, if only to avoid problems when deploying the
software, and even when the standard option is sub-optimal (MS JET is
just one of many examples available).

In this sense, I think that there is a market for a lean Python
distribution, and a market for a fat distribution. In this scenario,
the standard Python distribution should be kept more-or-less as it is
-- with some polish, of course, and perhaps including a few extra
modules (maybe even Pysqlite?). But it would still be fairly small,
comparing with other language distributions and commercial products.

The fat distribution (in my opinion) is a job for a commercial
company. Perhaps someone as ActiveState could do it, or some of the
commercial IDE makers. This distribution could include a bigger
selection of modules and packages, including full client-server
databsae engines, GUI libraries, UI designers, a report library -- the
kind of stuff that makes the life of VB or Delphi programmers easier.
The base language would still be the same, but the environment would
be richer in features. Best for some developers, not so good for

In this scenario, more than one company could offer their own
'framework', built on Python and using a different selection of
libraries. The main problem here is that market for such frameworks
has reduced considerably over the past decade, partly due to
Microsoft's nearly absolute dominance (In this sense, it was an
admirable feat that Sun managed to go so far with Java). In economic
terms, it's not as attractive as it was a few years back, which may
explain why such offering is still to materialize.

Carlos Ribeiro
Consultoria em Projetos
blog: http://rascunhosrotos.blogspot.com
blog: http://pythonnotes.blogspot.com
mail: carribeiro at gmail.com
mail: carribeiro at yahoo.com

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