Attn: Install path debaters

Ian Bruene ianbruene at
Thu Jan 4 15:18:33 UTC 2018

First: Gary, you keep mentioning that there are "still issues with PATH" 
and all of these solutions only take care of part of the problem.

What are these other issues? The only issues I know of are the Python 
sys.path issue, and fallout from various attempted fixes.

As for the solutions on the table:

The current system is for waf to just dump the python libraries in /usr/ 
(in theory it might put it somewhere else, but this is where it has been 
observed to go) if it encounters a problem. This is unacceptable. This 
*will* be removed before 1.1.

The former system was for waf to install in the correct location, but 
for the python libraries to be inaccessible on some distros. The problem 
was handled by suggesting to the user that they add the path to their 
PYTHONPATH. This is not good either, but in comparison with the current 
FHS violation it is acceptable. If no one can agree on a better solution 
this is what will be shipped in 1.1.

For alternate fixes we have rlaager's (!615) fix. The tradeoffs I see are:
     bad: the entire concept is a hideous violation of good import 
practices and generally all that is right and proper
     good: it Just Works(tm) for any install path you throw at it

The second fix is .pth files:
     bad: it will have to go under /usr/ (or equivalent depending on 
exact path)
     bad: apparently breaks inter-version seals between different copies 
of NTP. But this is true of any distro with /usr/local/
     good: it doesn't bypass python versioning <--- This is a Huge Win 
over telling users to use PYTHONPATH
     good: it works for everyone on a system
     good: despite technically violating FHS it does so in a 
non-colliding manner
     neutral: I'll bet that this doesn't solve the specific variant of 
the problem that I've encountered (a weird variant)

IMHO if we end up defaulting to the old method we should suggest the 
user create a .pth file instead of PYTHONPATH. PYTHONPATH is a mess for 
this kind of thing.

/"In the end; what separates a Man, from a Slave? Money? Power? No. A 
Man Chooses, a Slave Obeys."/ -- Andrew Ryan

/"Utopia cannot precede the Utopian. It will exist the moment we are fit 
to occupy it."/ -- Sophia Lamb

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