Blog entries

  • Distutils2 Sprint at Logilab (first day)

    2011/01/28 by Alain Leufroy

    We're very happy to host the Distutils2 sprint this week in Paris.

    The sprint has started yesterday with some of Logilab's developers and others contributors. We'll sprint during 4 days, trying to pull up the new python package manager.

    Let's sumarize this first day:

    • Boris Feld and Pierre-Yves David worked on the new system for detecting and dispatching data-files.
    • Julien Miotte worked on
      • moving qGitFilterBranch from setuptools to distutils2
      • testing distutils2 installation and register (see the tutorial)
      • the backward compatibility to distutils in, using setup.cfg to fill the setup arguments of setup for helping users to switch to distutils2.
    • André Espaze and Alain Leufroy worked on the python script that help developers build a setup.cfg by recycling their existing (track).

    Join us on IRC at #distutils on !

  • We're now publishing for Ubuntu aswell

    2009/01/26 by Arthur Lutz

    We've always been big fans of debian here at Logilab. So publishing debian packages for our open source software has always been a priority.

    We're now a bit involved with Ubuntu, work with it on some client projects, have a few Ubuntu machines lying around, and we like it too. So we've decided to publish our packages for Ubuntu as well as for debian.

    In the 0.12.1 version of logilab-devtools we introduced publishing of Ubuntu packages with lgp (Logilab Packaging) - see ticket. Since then, you can add the following Ubuntu source to your Ubuntu system

    deb hardy/

    For now, only hardy is up and running, give us a shout if you want something else!

  • Distutils2 January Sprint in Paris

    2011/01/07 by Pierre-Yves David

    At Logilab, we have the pleasure to host a distutils2 sprint in January. Sprinters are welcome in our Paris office from 9h on the 27th of January to 19h the 30th of January. This sprint will focus on polishing distutils2 for the next alpha release and on the install/remove scripts.

    Distutils2 is an important project for Python. Every contribution will help to improve the current state of packaging in Python. See the wiki page on for details about participation. If you can't attend or join us in Paris, you can participate on the #distutils channel of the freenode irc network

    For additional details, see Tarek Ziadé's original announce, read the wiki page on or contact us

  • Salomé accepted into Debian unstable

    2010/06/03 by Andre Espaze

    Salomé is a platform for pre and post-processing of numerical simulation available at It is now available as a Debian package and should soon appear in Ubuntu as well.

    A difficult packaging work

    A first package of Salomé 3 was made by the courageous Debian developper Adam C. Powell, IV on January 2008. Such packaging is very resources intensive because of the building of many modules. But the most difficult part was to bring Salomé to an unported environment. Even today, Salomé 5 binaries are only provided by upstream as a stand-alone piece of software ready to unpack on a Debian Sarge/Etch or a Mandriva 2006/2008. This is the first reason why several patches were required for adapting the code to new versions of the dependencies. The version 3 of Salomé was so difficult and time consuming to package that Adam decided to stop during two years.

    The packaging of Salomé started back with the version 5.1.3 in January 2010. Thanks to Logilab and the OpenHPC project, I could join him during 14 weeks of work for adapting every module to Debian unstable. Porting to the new versions of the dependencies was a first step, but we had also to adapt the code to the Debian packaging philosophy with binaries, librairies and data shipped to dedicated directories.

    A promising future

    Salomé being accepted to Debian unstable means that porting it to Ubuntu should follow in a near future. Moreover the work done for adapting Salomé to a GNU/Linux distribution may help developpers on others platforms as well.

    That is excellent news for all people involved in numerical simulation because they are going to have access to Salomé services by using their packages management tools. It will help the spreading of Salomé code on any fresh install and moreover keep it up to date.

    Join the fun

    For mechanical engineers, a derived product called Salomé-Méca has recently been published. The goal is to bring the functionalities from the Code Aster finite element solver to Salomé in order to ease simulation workflows. If you are as well interested in Debian packages for those tools, you are invited to come with us and join the fun.

    I have submitted a proposal to talk about Salomé at EuroSciPy 2010. I look forward to meet other interested parties during this conference that will take place in Paris on July 8th-11th.

  • The Configuration Management Problem

    2009/07/31 by Nicolas Chauvat

    Today I felt like summing up my opinion on a topic that was discussed this year on the Python mailing lists, at PyCon-FR, at EuroPython and EuroSciPy... packaging software! Let us discuss the two main use cases.

    The first use case is to maintain computer systems in production. A trait of production systems, is that they can not afford failures and are often deployed on a large scale. It leaves little room for manually fixing problems. Either the installation process works or the system fails. Reaching that level of quality takes a lot of work.

    The second use case is to facilitate the life of software developers and computer users by making it easy for them to give a try to new pieces of software without much work.

    The first use case has to be addressed as a configuration management problem. There is no way around it. The best way I know of managing the configuration of a computer system is called Debian. Its package format and its tool chain provide a very extensive and efficient set of features for system development and maintenance. Of course it is not perfect and there are missing bits and open issues that could be tackled, like the dependencies between hardware and software. For example, nothing will prevent you from installing on your Debian system a version of a driver that conflicts with the version of the chip found in your hardware. That problem could be solved, but I do not think the Debian project is there yet and I do not count it as a reason to reject Debian since I have not seen any other competitor at the level as Debian.

    The second use case is kind of a trap, for it concerns most computer users and most of those users are either convinced the first use case has nothing in common with their problem or convinced that the solution is easy and requires little work.

    The situation is made more complicated by the fact that most of those users never had the chance to use a system with proper package management tools. They simply do not know the difference and do not feel like they are missing when using their system-that-comes-with-a-windowing-system-included.

    Since many software developers have never had to maintain computer systems in production (often considered a lower sysadmin job) and never developed packages for computer systems that are maintained in production, they tend to think that the operating system and their software are perfectly decoupled. They have no problem trying to create a new layer on top of existing operating systems and transforming an operating system issue (managing software installation) into a programming langage issue (see CPAN, Python eggs and so many others).

    Creating a sub-system specific to a language and hosting it on an operating system works well as long as the language boundary is not crossed and there is no competition between the sub-system and the system itself. In the Python world, distutils, setuptools, eggs and the like more or less work with pure Python code. They create a square wheel that was made round years ago by dpkg+apt-get and others, but they help a lot of their users do something they would not know how to do another way.

    A wall is quickly hit though, as the approach becomes overly complex as soon as they try to depend on things that do not belong to their Python sub-system. What if your application needs a database? What if your application needs to link to libraries? What if your application needs to reuse data from or provide data to other applications? What if your application needs to work on different architectures?

    The software developers that never had to maintain computer systems in production wish these tasks were easy. Unfortunately they are not easy and cannot be. As I said, there is no way around configuration management for the one who wants a stable system. Configuration management requires both project management work and software development work. One can have a system where packaging software is less work, but that comes at the price of stability and reduced functionnality and ease of maintenance.

    Since none of the two use cases will disappear any time soon, the only solution to the problem is to share as much data as possible between the different tools and let each one decide how to install software on his computer system.

    Some links to continue your readings on the same topic:

  • The Python Package Index is not a "Software Distribution"

    2011/01/26 by Pierre-Yves David

    Recent discussions on the #disutils irc channel and with my logilab co-workers led me to the following conclusions:

    • The Python Package Index is not a software distribution
    • There is more than one way to distribute python software
    • Distribution packagers are power users and need super cow-powers
    • Users want it to "just works"
    • The Python Package Index is used by many as a software distribution
    • Pypi has a lot of contributions because requirements are low.

    The Python Package Index is not a software distribution

    I would define a software distribution as :

    • Organised group of people
    • Who apply a Unified Quality process
    • To a finite set of software
    • Which includes all its dependencies
    • With a consistent set of versions that work together
    • For a finite set of platforms
    • Managed and installed by dedicated tools.

    Pypi is a public index where:

    • Any python developer
    • Can upload any tarball containing something related
    • To any python package
    • Which might have external dependencies (outside Pypi)
    • The latest version of something is always available disregarding its compatibility with other packages.
    • Binary packages can be provided for any platform but are usually not.
    • There are several tools to install and manage python packages from pypi.

    Pypi is not a software distribution, it is a software index.

    Card File by Mr. Ducke / Matt

    There is more than one way to distribute python software

    There is a long way from the pure source used by the developer to the software installed on the system of the end user.

    First, the source must be extracted from a (D)VCS to make a version tarball, while executing several release specific actions (eg: changelog generation from a tracker) Second, the version tarball is used to generate a platform independent build, while executing several build steps (eg, Cython compilation into C files or documentation generation). Third, the platform independent build is used to generate a platform dependant build, while executing several platforms dependant build (eg, compilation of C extension). Finally, the platform dependant build is installed and each file gets dispatched to its proper location during the installation process.

    Pieces of software can be distributed as development snapshots taken from the (D)VCS, version tarballs, source packages, platform independent package or platform dependent package.

    package! by Beck Gusler

    Distribution packagers are power users and need super cow-powers

    Distribution packagers usually have the necessary infrastructure and skills to build packages from version tarballs. Moreover they might have specific needs that require as much control as possible over the various build steps. For example:

    • Specific help system requiring a custom version of sphinx.
    • Specific security or platform constraint that require a specific version of Cython
    Cheese Factory by James Yu

    Users want it to "just work"

    Standard users want it to "just work". They prefer simple and quick ways to install stuff. Build steps done on their machine increase the duration of the installation, add potential new dependencies and may trigger an error. Standard users are very disappointed when an installed failed because an error occurred while building the documentation. User give up when they have to download extra dependency and setup complicated compilation environment.

    Users want as many build steps as possible to be done by someone else. That's why many users usually choose a distribution that do the job for them (eg, ubuntu, red-hat, python xy)

    The Python Package Index is used by many as a software distribution

    But there are several situations where the user can't rely on his distribution to install python software:

    • There is no distribution available for the platform (Windows, Mac OS X)
    • They want to install a python package outside of their distribution system (to test or because they do not have the credentials to install it system-wide)
    • The software or version they need is not included in the finite set of software included in their distribution.

    When this happens, the user will use Pypi to fetch python packages. To help them, Pypi accepts binary packages of python modules and people have developed dedicated tools that ease installation of packages and their dependencies: pip, easy_install.

    Pip + Pypi provides the tools of a distribution without its consistency. This is better than nothing.

    Pypi has a lot of contributions because requirements are low

    Pypi should contain version tarballs of all known python modules. It is the first purpose of an index. Version tarball should let distribution and power user perform as many build steps as possible. Pypi will continue to be used as a distribution by people without a better option. Packages provided to these users should require as little as possible to be installed, meaning they either have no build step to perform or have only platforms dependent build step (that could not be executed by the developer).

    Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library by bookchen

    If the incoming distutils2 provides a way to differentiate platform dependent build steps from platform independent ones, python developers will be able to upload three different kind of package on Pypi.

    sdist:Pure source version released by upstream targeted at packagers and power users.
    idist:Platform-independent package with platform independent build steps done (Cython, docs). If there is no such build step, the package is the same as sdist.
    bdist:Platform-dependent package with all build steps performed. For package with no platform dependent build step this package is the same that idist.

    (Image under creative commons Card File by-nc-nd by Mr. Ducke / Matt, Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library by bookchen, package! by Beck Gusler, Cheese Factory by James Yu)

  • Looking for a Windows Package Manager

    2009/07/31 by Nicolas Chauvat

    As said in a previous article, I am convinced that part of the motivation for making package sub-systems like the Python one, which includes distutils, setuptools, etc, is that Windows users and Mac users never had the chance to use a tool that properly manages the configuration of their computer system. They just do not know what it would be like if they had at least a good package management system and do not miss it in their daily work.

    I looked for Windows package managers that claim to provide features similar to Debian's dpkg+apt-get and here is what I found in alphabetical order.


    AppSnap is written in Python and uses wxPython, PyCurl and PyYAML. It is packaged using Py2Exe, compressed with UPX and installed using NSIS.

    It has not seen activity in the svn or on its blog since the end of 2008.


    Appupdater provides functionality similar to apt-get or yum. It automates the process of installing and maintaining up to date versions of programs. It claims to be fully customizable and is licensed under the GPL.

    It seems under active development at SourceForge.


    QWinApt is a Synaptic clone written in C# that has not evolved since september 2007.


    WinAptic is another Synaptic clone written this time in Pascal that has not evolved since the end of 2007.


    Win-get is an automated install system and software repository for Microsoft Windows. It is similar to apt-get: it connects to a link repository, finds an application and downloads it before performing the installation routine (silent or standard) and deleting the install file.

    It is written in pascal and is set up as a SourceForge project, but not much has been done lately.


    WinLibre is a Windows free software distribution that provides a repository of packages and a tool to automate and simplify their installation.

    WinLibre was selected for Google Summer of Code 2009.


    ZeroInstall started as a "non-admin" package manager for Linux distributions and is now extending its reach to work on windows.


    I have not used any of these tools, the above is just the result of some time spent searching the web.

    A more limited approach is to notify the user of the newer versions:

    • App-Get will show you a list of your installed Applications. When an update is available for one of them, it will highlighted and you will be able to update the specific applications in seconds.
    • GetIt is not an application-getter/installer. When you want to install a program, you can look it up in GetIt to choose which program to install from a master list of all programs made available by the various apt-get clones.

    The appupdater project also compares itself to the programs automating the installation of software on Windows.

    Some columists expect the creation of application stores replicating the iPhone one.

    I once read about a project to get the Windows kernel into the Debian distribution, but can not find any trace of it... Remember that Debian is not limited to the Linux kernel, so why not think about a very improbable apt-get install windows-vista ?

  • PyconFR 2014 : jour 1, bus de communication, packaging et fin

    2014/11/04 by Arthur Lutz

    Suite à :


    Florent Aide nous a présenté son projet XBUS, un bus de communication pour les applications. L'idée est de gérer l'historique : pour faire parler des applications métier entre elles, on les connecte toutes au même bus. Dans certains cas, notamment quand la sécurité des données est en jeux, l'application qui traite le message renvoie un accusé de réception et de traitement (ACK).

    Côté technique, il s'agit de :

    • un cœur écrit en Go
    • zmq pour la communication
    • Python pour la logique

    Lors des questions un projet similaire a été mentionné : autobahn. Le projet XBUS est libre et publié sur bitbucket.

    Comment le packaging m'a simplifié la vie

    Étant donné qu'à Logilab, nous avons des avis assez arrêté sur les questions de packaging, je suis allé voir cette conférence.

    Xavier Ordoquy nous a présenté en détail virtualenv (pyvenv directement dans python à partir de 3.4) ainsi que l'outil pip.

    Historiquement pypi a été instable, mais la situation s'est améliorée depuis qu'il est sur un CDN. Il y a un travail en cours sur la sécurité (vérification d'intégrité, ssl obligatoire etc). devpi permet d'avoir un pypi en interne comme cache, mais aussi comme système de "staging" avant de publier sur le pypi "officiel".

    Selon Xavier, la guerre des distutils, python.packaging, distutils2, distribute, etc est finie. Il faut à présent utiliser setuptools et le connaître sur le bouts des doigts. Xavier nous recommande de copier un pour démarrer nos projets, par exemple celui de sentry.

    Côté numéro de version, il faut aller lire la PEP440 Version Identification and Dependency Specification.

    extra_requires permet de faire : pip install sentry[postgres] qui installe sentry mais aussi les dépendances pour le faire marcher avec PostgreSQL.

    Côté packaging, il va falloir selon Christophe apprendre à utiliser wheel et stevedore (code).

    Lors des questions, un membre du public mentionne le projet diecutter (docs, pypi).

    Support de présentation :

    Autres liens collectés

    • Pour travailler sur les docstrings d'un projet python, pyment peut être utile.
    • fedmsg est un bus de communication utilisé chez fedora/redhat pour un grand nombre d'applications, il y a probablement de bonnes choses dedans. Il y a un début de travail sur un bus similaire chez debian

    Prochain épisode

    Prochain épisode: jour 2