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Installing and Using Distribute


About the fork

Distribute is a friendly fork of the Setuptools project. The Setuptools maintainer, Phillip J. Eby is not responsible of any aspect of this fork.

If you install Distribute and want to switch back for any reason to Setuptools, get to the Uninstallation instructions section.

About the installation process

The Distribute installer modifies your installation by de-activating an existing installation of Setuptools in a bootstrap process. This process has been tested in various installation schemes and contexts but in case of a bug during this process your Python installation might be left in a broken state. Since all modified files and directories are copied before the installation, you will be able to get back to a normal state by reading the instructions in the Uninstallation instructions section.

In any case, it is recommended to save you site-packages directory before you start the installation of Distribute.

Installation Instructions

Distribute comes in two flavors: in eggs or as a source distribution. Archives are available at the PyPI page.

It can be installed using easy_install or pip, with the source tarball, with the eggs distribution, or using the script provided online. is the simplest and preferred way on all systems.

Download and execute it, using the Python interpreter of your choice.

If your shell has the wget program you can do:

$ wget
$ python

easy_install or pip

Run easy_install or pip:

$ easy_install Distribute
$ pip install Distribute

Source installation

Download the source tarball, and uncompress it, then run the install command:

$ wget
$ tar -xzvf distribute-0.6.tar.gz
$ cd distribute-0.6
$ python install

Egg installation

An Egg is a zip file with a sh script inserted in its head so it can be executed in the shell.

Cygwin, Linux anc Mac OS/X
  1. Download the appropriate egg for your version of Python (e.g. distribute-0.6-py2.4.egg). Do NOT rename it.

  2. Run it as if it were a shell script, e.g. sh distribute-0.6-py2.4.egg. Distutils will install itself using the matching version of Python (e.g. python2.4), and will place the easy_install executable in the default location for installing Python scripts (as determined by the standard distutils configuration files, or by the Python installation).

If you want to install distribute to somewhere other than site-packages or your default distutils installation locations for libraries and scripts, you may include EasyInstall command-line options such as --prefix, --install-dir, and so on, following the .egg filename on the same command line. For example:

sh distribute-0.6-py2.4.egg --prefix=~
Cygwin Note

If you are trying to install Distribute for the Windows version of Python (as opposed to the Cygwin version that lives in /usr/bin), you must make sure that an appropriate executable (python2.3, python2.4, or python2.5) is on your Cygwin PATH when invoking the egg. For example, doing the following at a Cygwin bash prompt will install Distribute for the Windows Python found at C:\\Python24:

ln -s /cygdrive/c/Python24/python.exe python2.4
PATH=.:$PATH sh distribute-0.6-py2.4.egg
rm python2.4

Don’t install Distribute trying to execute the egg, because it’s aimed to sh-based shells. Instead, use the method, that will download the egg for you, then install the egg.

Uninstallation Instructions

Like other distutils-based distributions, Distribute doesn’t provide an uninstaller yet. It’s all manual !

Distribute is installed in three steps:

1- it gets out of the way an existing installation of Setuptools 2- it installs a fake setuptools installation 3- it installs distribute

Distribute can be removed like this:

  • run easy_install -m Distribute. This will remove the Distribute reference from easy-install.pth or edit the file and remove it yourself.

  • remove the distribute*.egg file located in your site-packages directory

  • remove the setuptools.pth file located in you site-packages directory

  • remove the easy_install script located in you sys.prefix/bin directory

  • remove the setuptools*.egg directory located in your site-packages directory if any.

If you want to get back to setuptools:

  • reinstall setuptools using its instruction.


  • remove the .OLD. directory located in your site-packages directory if any, once you have checked everything was working correctly again.

Install FAQ

  • Why Distribute turn my Setuptools installation into an fake one ?

    Since Distribute is a fork, and since it provides the same package and modules, it fakes that the Setuptools installation is still present, so all the programs that where using Setuptools still work.

    If it wasn’t doing it, a program that would try to install Setuptools would overwrite in turn Distribute.

  • How does Distribute interacts with virtualenv ?

    Everytime you create a virtualenv it will install setuptools, so you need to re-install Distribute in it right after. The Distribute project will not attempt to patch virtualenv so it uses it when globally installed.

    Once installed, your virtualenv will use Distribute transparently.

    Although, if you have Setuptools installed in your system-wide Python, and if the virtualenv you are in was generated without the –no-site-packages option, the Distribute installation will stop.

    You need in this case to build a virtualenv with the –no-site-packages option or to install Distribute globally.

  • How does in interacts with zc.buildout ?

    Like virtualenv, Distribute has to be installed after setuptools. The simplest way is to add it in a zc.recipe.egg section so the job is done when you build your buildout.

    If you are combining zc.buildout and virtualenv, you might fail in the problem described in the previous FAQ entry.

    Last, you will need to use the provided special file, located in the buildout directory.


  • Tarek Ziadé

  • Hanno Schlichting

  • Many other people that helped on Distutils-SIG (please add your name here)

  • Phillip Eby for the Setuptools project.






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