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The standard Python readline extension statically linked against the GNU readline library.

Project description

Stand-alone GNU readline module

GitHub Workflow Status

First… STOP

Consider this: do you really need this package in 2022? You typically don’t if

  • you use the Python provided by a standard Linux distribution like Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, etc. (It already uses the proper readline.)

  • you run Windows (It won’t work! Try pyreadline or prompt_toolkit instead.)

  • you use the Python provided by Homebrew or Fink on macOS (It has real readline already!)

  • you want it for IPython (It switched to prompt_toolkit in version 5.0.)

  • you use a Python distribution like Anaconda or Enthought / Canopy (Again, real readline.)

You might need it if

  • you use Python provided by MacPorts or the system on macOS (Python compiled against libedit.)

  • you use a Python distribution like ActivePython on Linux or macOS (This used to ship without readline.)

  • you want to get the latest bug fixes and features in either the readline library or its Python module (Typically when stuck on older systems.)

Still interested?

Some platforms, such as macOS, do not ship with GNU readline installed. The readline extension module in the standard library of Mac “system” Python uses NetBSD’s editline (libedit) library instead, which is a readline replacement with a less restrictive software license.

As the alternatives to GNU readline do not have fully equivalent functionality, it is useful to add proper readline support to these platforms. This module achieves this by bundling the standard Python readline module with the GNU readline source code, which is compiled and statically linked to it. The end result is a package which is simple to install and requires no extra shared libraries.

The module is called gnureadline so as not to clash with the readline module in the standard library. This keeps polite installers such as pip happy and is sufficient for shells such as IPython. Please take note that IPython does not depend on gnureadline anymore since version 5.0 as it now uses prompt_toolkit instead.

A typical use case is to override readline in your code like this:

    import gnureadline as readline
except ImportError:
    import readline

If you want to use this module as a drop-in replacement for readline in the standard Python shell, it has to be installed with the less polite easy_install script found in setuptools. Please take note that easy_install has been deprecated for a while and is about to be dropped from setuptools. Proceed at your own risk!

The module can be used with both Python 2.x and 3.x, and has been tested with Python versions 2.6, 2.7, and 3.2 to 3.10. The first three numbers of the module version reflect the version of the underlying GNU readline library (major, minor and patch level), while any additional fourth number distinguishes different module updates based on the same readline library.

This module is usually unnecessary on Linux and other Unix systems with default readline support. An exception is if you have a Python distribution that does not include GNU readline due to licensing restrictions (such as ActiveState’s ActivePython in the past). If you are using Windows, which also ships without GNU readline, you might want to consider using the pyreadline module instead, which is a readline replacement written in pure Python that interacts with the Windows clipboard.

The latest development version is available from the GitHub repository.


8.1.2 (2022-06-14)

  • #57, #58: Now supports arm64 architecture (Apple M1, Raspberry Pi)

  • Moved CI from Travis to GitHub Actions and added cibuildwheel

  • Uses Python 3.11.0a7 readline.c (commit aac29af, 2021-10-13), OK for 3.10, 3.9

  • Uses Python 3.8.8 readline.c (commit f9d7c12, 2021-02-16), also OK for 3.7

  • Uses Python 2.7.18 readline.c (commit f32bcf8, 2019-11-07)

  • Updated to build against readline 8.1 (patch-level 2)

8.0.0 (2019-07-10)

  • Uses Python 3.7.4 readline.c (commit ef10f88, 2019-03-20), also OK for 3.8

  • Uses Python 3.6.8 readline.c (commit 25555e0, 2018-12-08), also OK for 3.5

  • Uses Python 3.4.4 readline.c (commit 7462b64, 2015-11-02)

  • Uses Python 2.7.16 readline.c (commit 89b5ea2, 2018-12-19)

  • Updated to build against readline 8.0

6.3.8 (2017-10-20)

  • #42, #44: Address compiler issues (avoid Cygwin, fix multi-arch on gcc)

  • #40: Make GPLv3 license explicit

  • #39: Look for bash shell in more places

  • Uses Python 2.x readline.c from hg 2.7 branch (95814:192f9efe4a38)

  • Uses Python 3.x readline.c from hg 3.4 / 3.5 branch (95813:ec6ed10d611e)

  • Updated to build against readline 6.3 (patch-level 8)

6.3.3 (2014-04-08)

  • Major rework of OS X build process (detect arches, no custom flags)

  • #20, #22, #28: Various issues addressed by new streamlined build

  • #28: Use $CC or cc to compile libreadline instead of default gcc

  • #35: Workaround for clang from Xcode 5.1 and Mac OS X 10.9.2

  • Uses Python 3.4 readline.c from hg 3.4 branch (89086:3110fb3095a2)

  • Updated to build against readline 6.3 (patch-level 3)

6.2.5 (2014-02-19)

  • Renamed module to gnureadline to improve installation with pip

  • #23, #25-27, #29-33: Tweaks and package reworked to gnureadline

  • Uses Python 2.x readline.c from hg 2.7 branch (89084:6b10943a5916)

  • Uses Python 3.x readline.c from hg 3.3 branch (89085:6adac0d9b933)

  • Updated to build against readline 6.2 (patch-level 5) (2012-10-22)

  • #21: Fixed building on 3.3 / Mac OS 10.8

6.2.4 (2012-10-17)

  • #15: Improved detection of compilers before Xcode 4.3

  • Uses Python 3.x readline.c from v3.3.0 tag (changeset 73997)

  • Updated to build against readline 6.2 (patch-level 4)

6.2.2 (2012-02-24)

  • #14: Fixed compilation with Xcode 4.3 on Mac OS 10.7

  • Updated to build against readline 6.2 (patch-level 2)

6.2.1 (2011-08-31)

  • #10: Fixed ‘_emacs_meta_keymap’ missing symbol on Mac OS 10.7

  • #7: Fixed SDK version check to work with Mac OS 10.7 and later

  • Uses Python 2.x readline.c from release27-maint branch (r87358)

  • Uses Python 3.x readline.c from release32-maint branch (r88446)

6.2.0 (2011-06-02)

  • #5: Removed ‘-arch ppc’ on Mac OS 10.6, as Snow Leopard supports Intel only

  • Updated to build against readline 6.2 (patch-level 1)

6.1.0 (2010-09-20)

  • Changed version number to reflect readline version instead of Python version

  • #4: Updated to build against readline 6.1 (patch-level 2)

  • #2: Python 3 support

  • Uses Python 2.x readline.c from release27-maint branch (r83672)

  • Uses Python 3.x readline.c from r32a2 tag (r84541)

  • Source code moved to GitHub

  • Additional maintainer: Sridhar Ratnakumar

2.6.4 (2009-11-26)

  • Added -fPIC to compiler flags to fix linking error on 64-bit Ubuntu

  • Enabled all readline functionality specified in pyconfig.h macros

  • Uses readline.c from Python svn trunk (r75725), which followed 2.6.4 release

  • Patched readline.c to replace Py_XDECREF calls with the safer Py_CLEAR

  • Fixed compilation error on Mac OS 10.4 with XCode older than version 2.4

2.6.1 (2009-11-18)

  • Updated package to work with Mac OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), which ships with Python 2.6.1

  • Uses readline.c from Python 2.6.1 release

  • Backported “spurious trailing space” bugfix from Python svn trunk (see e.g. for details on bug)

  • Updated to build against readline 6.0 (patch-level 4)

  • Now builds successfully on Linux (removed Mac-specific flags in this case), and still supports Mac OS 10.4 and 10.5

2.5.1 (2008-05-28)

  • Updated package to work with Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard), which ships with Python 2.5.1

  • Uses readline.c from Python 2.5.1 release

  • Updated to build against readline 5.2 (patch-level 12)

  • New maintainer: Ludwig Schwardt

2.4.2 (2005-12-26)

  • Original package by Bob Ippolito, supporting Python 2.3 / 2.4 on Mac OS 10.3 (Panther) and 10.4 (Tiger)

  • Builds against readline 5.1

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