Python package distribution - my current work

I found a bit of time to work on distribution matters. Here's a status of what I am doing there.

There are two topics I am focusing on right now.
- clean up and enhance Python's distutils package - implement the mirroring infrastructure at PyPI

distutils work

Nathan Van Gheem proposed a cool patch in collective.dist, (this package is a port of the new features I have added in distutils so they are available in 2.4 and 2.5).

Nathan proposed a patch to be able to avoid the storage of the password in the .pypirc file. The prompt is used in that case. This is something that was in my pile for a long time.

I have added a few things to Nathan's patch, and a test, and proposed it to Python. I am now waiting for its integration in 2.7 trunk: http://bugs.python.org/issue4394. If it's accepted, I will backport it to collective.dist.

There are some other tickets I am waiting to be accepted:
- http://bugs.python.org/issue4400 - http://bugs.python.org/issue2461 - http://bugs.python.org/issue3992 - http://bugs.python.org/issue3985 - http://bugs.python.org/issue3986

I am not sure when those will be integrated. The average time for the integration of tickets in distutils in Python is between 6 months and 8 months. hihihi. :D

PyPI mirroring

The job I am doing in PyPI will be in three phase :
- Phase 1: implement the mirroring infrastructure in PyPI - Phase 2: promote it, and propose patches for the mirroring tools out there so they use the protocol - Phase 3: promote and propose patches for pip so it can use the mirrors efficiently (fail-over and nearest mirror infrastructure).

Phase 1: so far, so good.

With some insights from Richard Jones and Martin von Löwis, I am currently implementing the mirroring infrastructure for PyPI we have defined during the D.C. sprint (I still owe a blog entry about this sprint). The code lives in a branch on the python svn folder dedicated to PyPI.

The idea of the mirroring infrastructure is to be able to get a list of official mirrors for PyPI, that can be used as alternatives sources . (It is described here: [http://wiki.python.org/moin/PEP_374][]). A great behavior could be that the client application interacts with the nearest mirror location automatically, and switch to another if it goes down.

So, a list of mirrors will be made available at /mirrors, and the client applications will be able from there to use an alternative location for every package. The hardest part concerns the stats : we want to display in PyPI the download counts for each package by summing downloads from every mirror.

So every mirror will have to provide its "local stats" that can be visited by PyPI. That's the biggest part of the work I am doing. It will build the stats for PyPI by parsing its Apache log file. And hopefully, this code should be reusable by the mirrors themselve so they can build their stats the same way.

Of course this infrastructure could be used for any PyPI-compatible server even if is not a mirror of PyPI (like a private PyPI server)

Phase 2 will consist in promoting the infrastructure to the mirroring softwares out there. Maybe Pycon will be a good place for that.

Phase 3 is the most interesting one : make sure the client applications use the mirrors ! I think Ian Bicking's pip project could be the right place for these innovations.

Next topics in the pile:
- index-merging: describe in a PEP-like document the index-merging feature that would allow clients to merge several indexes with a content that differe. For example: PyPI + a private PyPI server. I have written a first draft of such a patch in setuptools in the past (http://bugs.python.org/setuptools/issue32) but I have lost all my hopes to see this project moving forward lately. - Brainstorming: try to understand the Python Packaging Paradox. That is = how come the community, which is composed of many briliant people, is unable to move forward in packaging matters. - Distribute the return :D

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