First Impressions of Linux GUI Programming

R.Marquez ny_r_marquez at
Wed Nov 12 17:42:36 CET 2003

I hope I don't bore you with this personal experience.  But, I hope
the details are helpful for other Python and/or Linux newbies, or for
those thinking about becoming such.

I have been using Python on Windows for a few years now.  One of the
things that attracted me to Python was the fact that it offered the
possibility of learning to program in Linux wile not even using Linux.
 I recognized a few years back that Linux would eventually be the
platform I would use, once it matured a little.

My first Python GUI toolkit to learn was wxPython, and I have nothing
but good things to say about it.  But, after a while I began looking
for an ide to avoid some of the tedious aspects of coding the GUI.  I
am still not completely settled on any one of them, but for some small
utilities that I've written I have enjoyed using PythonCard the best. 
I have also heard great things about PyQt, however I have been
discouraged to try it since, on Windows, there is no GPL version (I
think that is a mistake on Trolltech's part, but that is another

I recently received a copy of Mandrake 9.2 (included in the December
2003 issue of Linux Format magazine), so I decided to install it on a
test machine.  Everything went smooth and it looks beautiful.  It
comes with Python 2.3 already installed.  I had a few minutes to
spare, so I decided to take a quick look at PyQt.  I downloaded the
following rpms:

PyKDE-3.7-1mdk92.i586.rpm, PyQt-3.7-1mdk92.i586.rpm,
PyQt-devel-3.7-1mdk92.i586.rpm, libqscintilla2-1.1-1mdksbe.i586.rpm,
libsip10-3.7-mdk92.i586.rpm, libsip10-devel-3.7-mdk92.i586.rpm,

As I said I only had a few minutes to spare. So when I ran into
trouble I did not take the time to chase to far for a solution.  (I
thought things had installed well but Python would not find qt).  As a
last resort I tried building PyQt from source, but it complained about
not finding Python.h.  That led me to a post in C.L.P. that mentioned
that to install PyQt in Mandrake it was recommended to install a
separate copy of Python to use instead of the one shipped.  My test
machine has a small (3GB) hard drive, so I decided to postpone that.

Having done that, I decided to try wxPython.  I went to the site and
downloaded the rpm.  Once downloaded, I simply right-clicked on it,
selected "Open with ...", and chose "Software Installer".  It went in
without a hitch.  I opened a terminal session to run Python, imported
wx, and it worked.  I even tried coding a little wxPython YES_NO
dialog window, and there it was.

Encouraged by that success I downloaded the latest PythonCard rpm for
Mandrake.  Again, it installed as smooth as wxPython did.  It even
placed links for the Code and Resource Editors on the K menu.  They
both worked well.  I quickly copied one of my little PythonCard
programs from Windows.  I used "Open With" to open the script in the
PythonCard Editor.  I removed a couple of Windows specific calls,
saved it, and launched it.  Wow, there it was. I was now Linux
programmer.  Well, sort of :).

Now, if I could only figure out a way to interact with my utility from
Konqueror or Nautilus, as the "Send to" feature of Windows Explorer
allows, I will be even happier. ;)  Thanks to all you coders that have
given us such great tools under such liberal licenses.

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