Chapter 42. Python

What Is Python?

Python is an interpreted scripting language, much like Perl or Tcl. Python’s primary focus is on clear, concise code, and it has a feature set and wide variety of available modules designed to support this goal. In many ways, Python is an extremely scalable language; complex systems can be relatively easily built in Python without losing maintainability. From the Python home page (

Python is an interpreted, interactive, object-oriented programming language. It is often compared to Tcl, Perl, Scheme or Java.

Python combines remarkable power with very clear syntax. It has modules, classes, exceptions, very high level dynamic data types, and dynamic typing. There are interfaces to many system calls and libraries, as well as to various windowing systems (X11, Motif, Tk, Mac, MFC). New built-in modules are easily written in C or C++. Python is also usable as an extension language for applications that need a programmable interface.

The Python implementation is portable: it runs on many brands of UNIX, on Windows, DOS, OS/2, Mac, Amiga... If your favorite system isn’t listed here, it may still be supported, if there’s a C compiler for it. Ask around on comp.lang.python — or just try compiling Python yourself.

Python is copyrighted but freely usable and distributable, even for commercial use.


Installation and Distutils

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