Difference between ActivePython and Python.org

Trent Mick trentm at ActiveState.com
Thu Dec 15 01:01:22 CET 2005

[S.Chang wrote]
> Anyone knows the difference(s) between the Python binaries from 
> ActiveState and Python.org?

The responses to this thread so far gave most of the differences. In

- On Windows, ActivePython includes the PyWin32 extensions.
- ActivePython rolls the core Python docs and a bunch of extra doc bits
  into one package, as detailed here:
- We have binary installers for more platforms:
  (And we'll likely have a few more in the future, in particular
  macosx-x86 and perhaps some newer 64-bit platforms.)
- As Neil pointed out, ActivePython does not currently have SSL bindings
  (the _ssl module) that python.org's Python builds do. We are currently
  going through the legal hurdles so that we can include those. I expect
  that by or before the Python 2.5 timeframe we'll have _ssl in
- ActivePython is free, but is not open source so, as Steve mentioned,
  you need permission if you want to *re-distribute* ActivePython.
  However, *using* ActivePython is still completely free and using tools
  like py2exe and py2app to wrap up your scripts and distribute those is
- ActivePython provides a Windows "debug" package: a zip of the
  debug-build libs that you can install into your Python install
  (python.org installs to as of the next release[1]). This can be useful
  for some people building debug builds of Python extensions.

One of the important things is how ActivePython is NOT different:
ActivePython should be fully binary compatible with python.org builds.
This is to ensure that 3rd-party extensions built for and tested on one
will just work on the other.

[BartlebyScrivener wrote]
> The ActiveState version lags behind for a month or two in versions,

That is occassionaly true, yes, but not always. ActivePython 2.4.2 was,
I believe, a few weeks behind. 2.4.0 was released within a day or two. 

[Neil Hodgson wrote]
> It would be helpful if the ActivePython "What's Included" page listed
> which parts of the python.org distribution are not included.

Good point. I'll update those docs now for the next release.

Trent (the ActivePython dude at ActiveState)

[1] Distributing the Python Windows debug build libs. 

Trent Mick
TrentM at ActiveState.com

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