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

Project description

It has been renamed to GNUREADLINE to resolve a name clash with the standard library module. Please go to the new gnureadline PyPI page.

Stand-alone readline module

Some platforms, such as Mac OS X, 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 can be used with both Python 2.x and 3.x but only up to 3.3, and has been tested with Python versions 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3. 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.

History (2022-06-24)


  • Add appropriate warnings to the docs to hammer this home

  • Prevent installation on Python 3.4 and later (the module is outdated)

  • Fix compilation on macOS 10.9+ to avoid crash before Python version check (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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