Python in Linux - barrier to Python 3.x

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Fri Sep 24 09:51:52 CEST 2010

On Tue, 21 Sep 2010 13:54:55 -0700, Ant wrote:

> Yes you are right - I've checked on my home machine, and it is indeed
> 2.6. Still, no Python 3 unless I upgrade to Fedora 13, and upgrading an
> OS in order to get the latest version of one package is a bit much!

Or you could install from source, which takes all of three minutes of 
effort. Well, maybe four. Eight if you've never done it before. Maybe 
twelve if you're cautious.

Here's a link to get you started:

The only gotchas you're likely to run into are, you need root, or at 
least sudo (which you would need for an rpm installation as well), and 
don't forget to run `make altinstall` instead of `make install`. Read the 
README for details.

You might have a policy of never installing anything that doesn't go 
through the system packaging system, and that's a perfectly good policy. 
But that's not Python's responsibility. Go nag the Fedora folks. Or ask 
around, somebody surely has built an rpm for Python 3.1.

> I know that this is a distribution issue, and not strictly a Python
> one, 

It's not a Python issue *at all*.

> but the issue exists primarily because python is such a
> successful language it has become deeply embedded in linux
> distributions, and so there is now a lot of work involved in checking
> that a python upgrade doesn't break things.

Well, maybe so, but that has nothing to do with the availability of one 
or more non-system Pythons. My sys admin foo is mediocre at best, but 
I've had no problems at all with installing Pythons 1.5 through 3.2 
inclusive on my system, while leaving 2.5 as the system Python. In my 
experience installing from source on Fedora systems Just Works.


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