Python for Macintosh

Kow Kuroda kkuroda at
Thu Aug 29 06:23:27 CEST 2002

On Wednesday, August 28, 2002, at 10:22 , Hans Nowak wrote:
> I am planning to get a Macintosh computer soon (an iMac G3, to be precise)
> . It should probably run Mac OS X.

Welcome to the frustraing world of Mac OS X!

> Unfortunately, at this point I don't know anything about Macs, so I wonder 
> how things work with Python programming. Maybe some MacPython users can 
> enlighten me.
> I know that there are several Python versions of the Mac out there, so I 
> trust that I can still do some basic programming with it. But would I 
> still be able to use, for example:
> - Tkinter?
> - IDLE?
> - wxPython?
> - ReportLab?
> - Numeric?
> - PyGame?
> Maybe some of these packages rely on binaries and must therefore be custom 
> built. How easy/difficult would it be to do that, compared to other 
> operating systems?

MacPython is a pre-complied environment, and if you happen to want to 
rebuild it, you'll definitely need one of those develper softwares like 
CodeWorrior. They are not free.

When I used it a few months ago, MacPython wasn't really geared up for OS 
X. Actually, you won't probably need it on OS X, because a bunch of 
unix-based distributions are available that work happily on Terminal, and 
even on X Window system called "XDarwin", which I will explain later.

If you're planning to work on OS X, not staying with OS 9.2.x or earlier, 
you won't need MacPython. Rather, you'd better get a unix version. There 
are several distributions out there, but my recommendation is Python 2.2 in 
devian package provided in "fink" environment, which I will explain later.
  It's a Tkinter-enabled distribution of Python 2.2 on Mac OS X, and it's 
the only Tkinter-enabled distribtion of Python for Mac OS X, as far as I 

You may be interested in XDarwin, which is OS X port of XFree85 4.2.0. You 
can get a copy at:

You can install XDarwin as an independent program, or as a pacakge of fink.
  I recommend the latter option. Visit the following site to see what fink 

The fink installs devian packages. One of them is Python 2.2. that works 
with X Window and this is the only distribution that I know that is 
configured for Tkinter. This is my recommendation for now.

I have no idea about wxPython, ReportLab, PyGame, but Numeric should be 
working on most Mac OS X port. Tkinter, and therefore IDLE, are the hardest 

Also, if you're planning to build your Python, say 2.2.1, from source, you'
ll definitely need Developer Tools that Apple provides as an option. You 
won't be charged for it, but you need to register yourself as a developer.
  Visit Apple's site to get it:

> Also, does MacPython have a command line like the Windows and Unix 
> versions?

Do you mean the Python interpreter? If so, the answer is yes. It also comes 
with a command-line interface for user-input (like raw_input, input), but 
I'm not sure if sys.argv works, too.

With Python 2.2.1, Python can be installed as a Framework. This is what 
README says, and I confirmed it's true. But for now, Tkinter isn't 
configured for Mac OS X.

Hope this helps


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