Python v PHP: fair comparison?

Paul Boddie paul at
Fri Nov 17 11:50:30 CET 2006

Luis M. González skrev:
> > > OK. But since when has python been considered a viable alternative for
> > > web development?


> The problem is (or was) for mere mortals trying to create a web site on
> shared hostings.

Yes, that was the "barrier to entry" observation, but you have to
implicitly narrow the discussion to just that if you want statements
like the one above to stand. I agree with what you're saying in the
context of "mere mortals", but for businesses and other organisations,
who have more control over hosting infrastructure, Python has been
viable for a long time.

> We all know that mod_python has its issues, and still is not a common
> or affordable feature in the vast mayority of web hosts. And prior to
> that, you only had cgi or other rather unknown solutions.

True. This kind of thing is what put the brakes on the adoption of
Webware and similar technologies where you have a long-running process
alongside the Web server processes: something a lot of commodity
hosting companies aren't interested in managing. I imagine that
mod_python could have been an acceptable vehicle for higher performance
Python hosting, given that you could just add it to the server program,
but the necessary isolation mechanisms were never developed. (And in
this context, it's interesting that the principal author of mod_python
now runs a hosting operation based on Linux-VServer technologies.)

> mod_php had a clear advantage here. Perhaps not as a language but as an
> ubiquitous and cheap alternative.


> In the last months (and I said "months" not years) the situation
> improved a lot, but still it is a fair to make a comparison.

The number of providers willing to run long-running processes alongside
Web server processes has certainly increased, due to an increased
demand for a certain non-Python Web framework whose technical
foundations virtually mandate such an environment. Nevertheless,
WebFaction (as an example of a more flexible provider) has been around
since the start of 2003.


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