Windows versions of Python---pros and cons?

Trent Mick trentm at
Wed Jun 19 18:46:54 EDT 2002

[Tom Loredo wrote]
> Hi folks-
> I've been using Python heavily on a Solaris box and a Mac for a
> few years now.  For reasons I'll spare you from, I now am venturing
> into Windows territory (a Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop, if that matters).
> I see at least two Windows versions of Python---that at,
> and the ActiveState version.  The obvious "pro" for the ActiveState
> version is simplicity of the install (batteries included, etc.).
> But what about after that?  Are their substantial differences between
> the versions that I will bump into down the line? 

ActivePython should be 100% binary compatible with the Python installer
on If not, it is a bug. The only real "substantial"
difference, as far as your code is concerned, is the presence of some
Python extensions like PyWin32.

> In particular, I write many C extensions; can one use distutils and
> the Borland or gcc free compilers to build C extensions in both
> versions?

My understanding is that for C extensions to work they must be built
with the same compiler as that used to build the Python with which they
will run. (I may be wrong. Someone please correct me if I am.) Visual
C++ 6.0 is used to build ActivePython and a's Python for
Windows. This means that you would have to build Python yourself from
source with your free compiler to be able to run your extensions built
with the free compiler.


Trent Mick
TrentM at

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