Pythonaro blog

05 October 2008

Horrible Hack to get Python 2.6 on Debian or Kubuntu

I wanted to try out the newly-released 2.6 version of our beloved Python, but unfortunately Debian didn't have a package for it yet (and it still doesn't). I wasn't too afraid of screwing up my laptop, as it's probably going to be formatted very soon anyway, and I didn't want to mess around with deb build scripts, so this is what I've done:

  1. got the official source distribution, untarred and cd in the resulting dir Python2.6
  2. got some additional packages: apt-get install tk8.4-dev libgdbm-dev libdb-dev libreadline-dev libsqlite3-dev libncurses5-dev (and possibly a few others)
  3. ./configure --prefix=/usr --enable-ipv6
  4. make
  5. checkinstall -D --pkgname=python2.6 --pkgversion=2.6 --inspect --backup=yes --install=no make altinstall
    This command allowed me to review the package contents and remove what I didn't need, which is basically everything outside the "python2.6" directories and which might already exist on my system (so I didn't want to overwrite it).
    I took out the lines /usr/bin/pydoc, /usr/bin/idle and /usr/share/man/man1/python.1
    UPDATE: when checkinstall asks if you want to create a default set of docs, say "yes", or you might get an error about ranlib further down (see comments).
  6. installed the produced .deb package
  7. copied back pydoc and idle (from the build directory) and /usr/share/man/man1/python.1 (from the Misc directory), all with "2.6" appended. I then set up alternatives with update-alternatives --install symlink name alternative priority (mainly in order to "redebianize" my impure karma); UPDATE: well, using alternatives (a 100% Debian solution which works perfectly well for loads of other multi-version script engines) will break your system, because some developers absolutely must reinvent the wheel every 5 minutes and then proudly announce that bugs won't be fixed. The stupidity of it all is staggering.

First impressions: 2.6 seems fast as hell. I don't know if this is due to the custom compilation though, rather than improvements in the runtime.

Labels: , , ,

posted by GiacomoL @ 2:14 PM  


  • At 17/10/08 06:22, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Very useful. Thank you. I never knew about checkinstall, and I was always somewhat annoyed at Debian for publishing such old packages.

  • At 25/10/08 14:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanx to tutorial and knowledge about check-install ;).

  • At 18/11/08 16:32, Blogger Edgar said…

    Nice post. Very useful.
    I got stuck with checkinstall. when I run it I get this:

    /usr/bin/install -c -m 644 pyconfig.h /usr/include/python2.6/pyconfig.h
    Creating directory /usr/lib/python2.6/config
    ranlib: could not create temporary file whilst writing archive: No more archived files
    make: *** [libainstall] Error 1

    **** Installation failed. Aborting package creation.

    do you have an idea of what is going on?

  • At 18/11/08 21:28, Blogger GiacomoL said…

    It looks like the program is not able to create /usr/lib/python2.6/config; it might be a permission issue. I can't remember whether I ran checkinstall as a regular user or as root, but certainly I didn't use sudo (I never use it).

  • At 19/11/08 23:59, Blogger GiacomoL said…

    Actually, I ran in the same issue when doing it on my new Kubuntu machine. And it's just a stupid checkinstall bug :( make sure you answer YES when asked to create a default set of docs, and it will work.

  • At 20/11/08 14:25, Blogger Edgar said…

    It worked, thanks a lot!

  • At 20/11/08 18:41, Blogger Edgar said…

    Hmmm, I tried again from scratch and it didn't work. I realized that when it worked I already had python 2.6 installed, so I installed it first with make altinstall, then did the checkinstall thing, and it worked.

    I am not sure the deb package will work fine on another computer.

  • At 20/11/08 20:39, Blogger GiacomoL said…

    No, there's no guarantee that it will work on another machine. Checkinstall is not meant to produce redistributable packages, but rather to give you a way of tracking (and reverting) the changes that non-packaged installations would make to a given system. This is why I call it a hack; it tries to conform to package managers as much as possible, but it's a different thing.

    Proper "full-on" redistributable packages are produced with flexibility in mind, to be able to adapt to different configurations -- and that's why they're so bloody hard to build :)

  • At 5/12/08 20:49, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the write up. I used it for Python 3.0 (with some additional args to ./configure) and it came out great.


  • At 5/12/08 22:41, Blogger GiacomoL said…

    Great to hear that, Richard, because I ddin't manage to :( the _dbm submodule refuses to build on my Kubuntu 8.04...

  • At 2/1/09 11:52, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    maybe better to use this PPA

  • At 2/1/09 12:15, Blogger GiacomoL said…

    That PPA came out some two weeks after I posted this... I expect sooner or later we'll have proper packages.

  • At 10/1/09 03:19, Blogger anibal said…

    I followed all steps by couldn't make pyversions show my 2.6 new version :(


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