Packaging versus Building from Source on Mac OS X
It took me a weekend but I finally got Python 2.7 + PIL (Python Imaging Library) working on my old PowerBook G4 12″ (which runs Mac OS 10.4 Tiger). The problems I was having were partly because of a mismatch between pre-compiled. and build-from-source packages.
The official Python package is pre-built, and to allow it to work on both PowerPC and x86 processors, it is built with ‘fat’ binaries.
PIL is a Python package that uses an extension module written in C++.
When installed through
setuptools easy install pip, it
builds the extension using the same compiler options as were used to
compile Python. This works automatically through Python‘s sysconfig
module. So PIL will try to compile its extension as a fat binary as
The extension depends on two libraries,
libjpeg (from the Independent
JPEG Group) and
zlib. I had previously installed
MacPorts, a port of FreeBSD Ports. MacPorts works by downloading
source code and compiling it locally; it makes sense that it only
compiles it for the CPU of the local machine; it makes sense therefore
that it is not a fat-binary library.
As a result, after many minutes of compilation, the installation of PIL fails with a mysterious error message.
(Note that this is not a problem on my desktop, which runs Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard and uses Homebrew for package management.)
I tried various ways around this. One might have been to use MacPorts to
install Python instead of using the standard package. The problem here
is that my MacPorts installation is broken—each time I try to update or
upgrade it it fails and advises me to try updating it. Another might be
libjpeg youself, using some glibtool hackery.
I started by uninstalling MacPorts. I only want to install a small number of packages, so I am better off doing without MacPorts rather than trying to work out what went wrong with it.
What I did instead to get my project ready was this:
Downloaded the JPEG source form the IJG site. Read
compiled and installed with
Downloaded Python source, unpack, read the installation instructions
and do the following commands (where
$ is standing in for my command
$ ./configure --enable-framework $ make $ sudo make install
which creates a non-fat-binary version, builds and installs it. This takes many minutes on my 12″. Checked this makes the new version default with
$ which python
This showeded Python coming from
Downloaded the Setuptools egg for Python 2.7 (you need Setuptools to install Virtualenv). Installed it with
$ sh setuptools-0.6c11-py2.7.egg
Checked this had worked as expected with
$ which easy_install
And then installed virtualenv and created an environment for my
project (in this case
$ easy_install virtualenv $ virtualenv --distribute --no-site-packages minecraft-texture-maker $ cd minecraft-texture-maker $ . bin/activate
Now I was finally ready to install the project requirements:
(minecraft-texture-maker)$ git clone firstname.lastname@example.org:pdc/minecraft-texture-maker.git (minecraft-texture-maker)$ pip install -r minecraft-texture-maker/REQUIREMENTS
This automatically downloads and installs the files in
(which was created on my other dev machine using
pip freeze). After
all this work it is nice to see it spin up the C++ compiler to build the
extension and succeed.
One of those requirements was Nose so I can check all is as expected with
(minecraft-texture-maker)$ nosetests tests
Moral: Compiling packages from scratch is not as bad as all that.