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Switching python-setuptools to distribute



I've been a comaintainer of the python-setuptools package for a long time
and recently became the owner when icon relinquished it.  It is currently a
tumultuous time for distributing python modules with a new and active
maintainer for distutils inside of the python stdlib and a fork of
setuptools being worked on.

That fork is named distribute and there are two branches of development on
it.  The 0.7 branch aims to implement API, metadata, and other features that
will make packaging python modules for upstream building and distribution
easier while being more concerned with the effects this has on
Linux packagers.  The 0.6 branch intends to be compatible with the current
seutptools package but to fix bugs and introduce features that are backwards
compatible and oft requested.  This branch is being actively maintained by a
core group of five committers including the new distutils maintainer.  By
contrast, setuptools is maintained by a single maintainer who often has
little time to work on it.

When installed, the 0.6 branch takes over the setuptools and pkg_resources
python modules.  The reasoning is that distribute-0.6 provides the same API
as setuptools and is meant to replace it.  If the module was installed
differently, consuming code (all the setup.py modules in any setuptools
using package as well as code that relies on setuptools features at runtime)
would all need to change their import statements to use the new names
explicitly.  This choice is being made upstream by the distribute project.

Upstream, the python community has viewed the fork favorably but since it's
not part of python proper, the only one with say in the matter is the
setuptools author.  He has not been willing to abandon the setuptools module
but at the same time hasn't gained any more free time to work on setuptools.

Several other Linux distributions (gentoo and arch) have started shipping
distribute-0.6 as the source of their setuptools package.  I am thinking of
doing the same for rawhide and pushing the change to older Fedora releases
if bugs are reported that are fixed in distribute but not in seutptools as
having a responsive upstream that cares about distribution packaging issues
is a great plus for us.  I raised this plan on fedora-python-devel and
received one positive comment and no negative feedback so I'm just
mentioning it here so a broader audience can ask any questions or raise any
issues before putting this into effect.

-Toshio

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