3. Writing the Setup Configuration File#
This document is being retained solely until the
independently covers all of the relevant information currently included here.
Often, it’s not possible to write down everything needed to build a distribution
a priori: you may need to get some information from the user, or from the
user’s system, in order to proceed. As long as that information is fairly
simple—a list of directories to search for C header files or libraries, for
example—then providing a configuration file,
setup.cfg, for users to
edit is a cheap and easy way to solicit it. Configuration files also let you
provide default values for any command option, which the installer can then
override either on the command-line or by editing the config file.
The setup configuration file is a useful middle-ground between the setup
script—which, ideally, would be opaque to installers 1—and the command-line to
the setup script, which is outside of your control and entirely up to the
installer. In fact,
setup.cfg (and any other Distutils configuration
files present on the target system) are processed after the contents of the
setup script, but before the command-line. This has several useful
installers can override some of what you put in
you can provide non-standard defaults for options that are not easily set in
installers can override anything in
setup.cfgusing the command-line options to
The basic syntax of the configuration file is simple:
[command] option=value ...
where command is one of the Distutils commands (e.g. build_py,
install), and option is one of the options that command supports.
Any number of options can be supplied for each command, and any number of
command sections can be included in the file. Blank lines are ignored, as are
comments, which run from a
'#' character until the end of the line. Long
option values can be split across multiple lines simply by indenting the
You can find out the list of options supported by a particular command with the
--help option, e.g.
$ python setup.py --help build_ext [...] Options for 'build_ext' command: --build-lib (-b) directory for compiled extension modules --build-temp (-t) directory for temporary files (build by-products) --inplace (-i) ignore build-lib and put compiled extensions into the source directory alongside your pure Python modules --include-dirs (-I) list of directories to search for header files --define (-D) C preprocessor macros to define --undef (-U) C preprocessor macros to undefine --swig-opts list of SWIG command line options [...]
Note that an option spelled
--foo-bar on the command-line is spelled
foo_bar in configuration files.
For example, say you want your extensions to be built “in-place”—that is, you
have an extension
pkg.ext, and you want the compiled extension file
ext.so on Unix, say) to be put in the same source directory as your
pure Python modules
pkg.mod2. You can always use the
--inplace option on the command-line to ensure this:
python setup.py build_ext --inplace
But this requires that you always specify the build_ext command
explicitly, and remember to provide
--inplace. An easier way is to
“set and forget” this option, by encoding it in
configuration file for this distribution:
This will affect all builds of this module distribution, whether or not you
explicitly specify build_ext. If you include
your source distribution, it will also affect end-user builds—which is
probably a bad idea for this option, since always building extensions in-place
would break installation of the module distribution. In certain peculiar cases,
though, modules are built right in their installation directory, so this is
conceivably a useful ability. (Distributing extensions that expect to be built
in their installation directory is almost always a bad idea, though.)
Another example: certain commands take a lot of options that don’t change from
run to run; for example, bdist_rpm needs to know everything required
to generate a “spec” file for creating an RPM distribution. Some of this
information comes from the setup script, and some is automatically generated by
the Distutils (such as the list of files installed). But some of it has to be
supplied as options to bdist_rpm, which would be very tedious to do
on the command-line for every run. Hence, here is a snippet from the Distutils’
[bdist_rpm] release = 1 packager = Greg Ward <firstname.lastname@example.org> doc_files = CHANGES.txt README.txt USAGE.txt doc/ examples/
Note that the
doc_files option is simply a whitespace-separated string
split across multiple lines for readability.
- Syntax of config files in “Installing Python Modules”
More information on the configuration files is available in the manual for system administrators.
This ideal probably won’t be achieved until auto-configuration is fully supported by the Distutils.