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[Python-Dev] PEP 394: Allow the `python` command to not be installed (and other minor edits)

On 28 April 2018 at 12:34, Guido van Rossum <guido at python.org> wrote:

> Um, the PEP has "Unix-Like Systems" in its heading, so discussing the
> Windows situation seems out of scope to me.

Sorry, I conflated two issues there - while PEP 394 itself is specific to
Unix-like systems, my thoughts on where I'd like to take it in the future
are mainly informed by my experiences helping to maintain the Python
Packaging User Guide these days, where the current platform dependence of
"How does a user run Python, pip, and pip-installed Python tools from the
command line?" is a frequent source of problems for folks just starting
out. (We really don't want to be maintaining separate "Windows
instructions" and "everywhere else instructions" indefinitely, but that's
where we are currently)

> You're one of its authors, so if you really want to keep the paragraph
> about the anticipated unified future we can keep it (though preferably this
> should be discussed in the issue, https://github.com/python/peps/pull/630).
> But I think this PEP is strongest in its guidelines for what distros and
> sysadmins should do *today*; I feel that that paragraph encourages hopes
> about a future that's farther away than most people care to plan, and not
> at all certain.

After reviewing the specifics of the proposed changes in the PR, I'm fine
with dropping any reference to future plans for the unqualified "python"
name for now (aside from clarifying how we expect it to work in virtual
environments). That accurately reflects the status quo anyway - inside a
virtual environment, 'python' has a clear expected meaning (the venv's
Python), outside a virtual environment it's thoroughly ambiguous at best.

The real deadline for figuring out the preferred post-Python-3 spelling
will be once we decide to bump the major version number again, and that's
at least a few years away, even if we eventually decide not to do a Python


P.S. Historically, we hadn't been able to get much real traction with the
"py-for-Unix-like-systems" idea, since it wasn't clear what problem, if
any, it would solve at the *distro* level. However, we may have more luck
if we're able to position it as a more forward-compatible replacement for
explicit references to 'python3' that doesn't conflict with the assumption
that `python` will refer specifically to `python2`.

Nick Coghlan   |   ncoghlan at gmail.com   |   Brisbane, Australia
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