Question about installing python and modules on Red Hat Linux 6

Steven D'Aprano steve+comp.lang.python at
Sun Nov 16 02:08:52 CET 2014

Grant Edwards wrote:

> On 2014-11-15, Steven D'Aprano <steve+comp.lang.python at>
> wrote:
>> pythonista wrote:
>>> I am developing a python application as a contractor.
>>> I would like to know if someone can provide me with some insight into
>>> the problems that then infrastructure team has been having.
>>> The scope of the project was to install python 2.7.8 and 4 modules/site
>>> packages on a fresh linux build.
>> A "fresh linux build" of Red Hat Linux 6? RHL 6 was discontinued in 2000.
>> That's *at least* 14 years old. Why on earth are you using something so
>> old instead of a recent version of RHEL, Centos or Fedora?
> I'm sure the OP meant RHEL 6, and not RH 6 [yes, I realize you know
> that two and are just making a point about how it pays to include
> accurate info when asking for help.]

Actually, no, the thought didn't even cross my mind. I just assumed that if
somebody is going to cast aspersions on the professionalism of others,
they'd get their facts right. If they said RHL 6, they meant RHL 6 and not
Centos 5 or Fedora 20 or Debian Squeeze. But I suppose that you're probably
right. In hindsight, given that the OP is a Windows guy and not a Linux
user, writing Red Hat Linux for Red Hat Enterprise Linux is an easy mistake
to make.

Assuming it was RHEL 6, then installing Python 2.7 from source as a separate
application from the system Python should be trivially easy, half an hour's
work. Download the source, untar, run ./configure, make, make altinstall
and you should be done. There may be a few bumps in the road to get
optional components supported, in which case a skilled Linux admin (which I
am not) might need perhaps a couple of hours. Depending on just how bad the
bumps were, an unskilled admin like me might take a day or so, not three
weeks, before giving up.

The most obvious trap is to run `make install` instead of `make altinstall`,
in which case congratulations, you've just broken the RHEL install, and why
didn't you read the README first? You can recover from it, probably, by
fixing a few sym links, or by re-installing the system Python using the
package manager. Worst case you just reinstall the whole OS. Two or three
days, tops, not four weeks.

If some foolish person insisted on upgrading the system python to 2.7
instead of installing a parallel installation, then the sky is the limit. I
cannot imagine how much effort that would take, or how fragile it would be.
Weeks? Probably. And then the first time the admin runs the package manager
to install updates, things could start breaking.

One thing which the OP hasn't told us, how much of the four weeks was
effort, as opposed to elapsed time. For all we know, it took them four
weeks to install this because for three weeks, four days and seven hours
they were doing something else.

In any case, if the OP has been billed for this time, I would insist on
justification for why it took so long before paying.


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