The Distribution Utilities (distutils)

Python modules, extensions, and applications can be packaged and distributed in several forms:

Compressed archive files

Generally .zip for Windows and .tar.gz or .tgz for Unix-based systems, but both forms are portable

Self-unpacking or self-installing executables

Normally .exe for Windows

Platform-specific installers

For example, .msi on Windows, .rpm and .srpm on Linux, and .deb on Debian GNU/Linux

When you distribute a package as a self-installing executable or platform-specific installer, a user can then install the package simply by running the installer. How to run such an installer program depends on the platform, but it no longer matters what language the program was written in.

When you distribute a package as an archive file or as an executable that unpacks but does not install itself, it does matter that the package was coded in Python. In this case, the user must first unpack the archive file into some appropriate directory, say C:\Temp\MyPack on a Windows machine or ~/MyPack on a Unix-like machine. Among the extracted files there should be a script, conventionally named setup.py, that uses the Python facility known as the distribution utilities (package distutils). The distributed package is then almost as easy to install as a self-installing executable would be. The user opens a command-prompt window and changes to the directory into which the archive is unpacked. Then the user runs, for example:

C:\Temp\MyPack> python 
               setup.py ...

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