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ctypes-based Python wrapper for GNU Readline

Project description

pygnurl is a ctypes-based Python wrapper for GNU Readline intended to be used as a drop-in replacement for Python’s built-in readline module. It is currently intended for Windows (as Python on Windows comes without a readline module by default) and Mac OS X (as its readline module is implemented using libedit, not GNU Readline).

pygnurl works with 32- and 64-bit Python 2 and 3.


pygnurl dynamically loads a Readline library, so you need a version matching the architecture of your Python interpreter (not necessarily your system).

More information on where to get Readline can be found on the Readline home page:

Windows users can get a pre-built 32-bit Readline DLL from:

Quick Start Guide

Set the PYGNURL_LIB environment variable to the filename of your Readline library. This will be loaded using the shared library search order rules of your system.

If your version of Python already has a readline module, you will need to do one of the following things to let pygnurl override it:

  1. Add <site-packages>/pygnurl/modules to your PYTHONPATH environment variable

  2. Install using easy_install instead of pip

pip install pygnurl
>>> import rlcompleter
>>> import readline
>>> readline.parse_and_bind('tab: complete')
>>> r<tab><tab>

If you are using Python 3.4 or later, completion and history will be set up for you automatically. If you are using an older version, you will need to set this up yourself.

If you set the PYTHONSTARTUP environment variable to a Python file, it will be run every time you start the interpreter. An example startup file giving tab completion and saved history is provided in pygnurl/scripts/ You can point the environment variable directly at this file, or you can copy it elsewhere and modify it to suit your needs.


pygnurl aims to provide full GNU Readline support across all platforms with no compilation overhead. Any pre-built Readline library should be able to be dropped in with no code modifications. If necessary, version- or platform-specific compatibility fixes can be implemented in Python, not C.


For source code, questions and bug reports, visit the GitHub repository:


readline - Part of the standard library. Python on Mac OS X may implement this using libedit instead of GNU Readline and must be configured accordingly.

pyreadline - A python implmentation of GNU readline.

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

rl - Alternative Python bindings for GNU Readline.














Pure Python










Known Bugs

  • ANSI color codes in the IPython terminal are not able to be printed. As a workaround, the codes are stripped and a plain prompt is displayed instead.

  • libreadline6 from MinGW lags behind one keystroke when using the arrow keys. This appears to be related to the Readline callback interface.

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