Advice from distutils experts?

Robert Kern robert.kern at
Sun Mar 5 00:11:47 CET 2006

olsongt at wrote:
> I'm doing something a little wierd in one of my projects.  I'm
> generating a C source file based on information extracted from python's
> header files.  Although I can just generate the file and check the
> result into source control, I'd rather have the file generated during
> the install process instead of doing it manually.
> So I'd like to:
>     + have the file generated when a unix user runs install.
>     + have the file generated when I create a windows binary
> distribution.
>     + not have the file generated when I create source distribution
> .tgz's and .zip's.
> I'd appreciate any pointers on the best way to hook into disutils to do
> this.  And if the answer is "Your crazy, generate the file outside of
> distutils." just let me know.

We do things like this in numpy. We've extended distutils to allow functions in
the sources list for Extension.

from numpy.distutils.core import Extension
from distutils.dep_util import newer

def generate_source_c(ext, build_dir):
    target = os.path.join(build_dir, 'source.c')
    if newer(__file__, target):
        # ... parse Python headers
        contents = """
#include "Python.h"
/* ... */
""" % (stuff, more_stuff)
        f = open(target, 'w')
    return target

ext = Extension('my_extension',


Robert Kern
robert.kern at

"In the fields of hell where the grass grows high
 Are the graves of dreams allowed to die."
  -- Richard Harter

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