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Thoughts on the transition to Python 2.7

Python 2.7 is now supported in experimental.  Along with the opening of Ubuntu
11.04 for development, it's time to revisit our transition to Python 2.7.
It's something I'm keen on doing, and committed to working on.

It's imperative to me that we do this transition so that both Debian and
Ubuntu can benefit, and certainly I do not want to dump any work on Debian
developers that I'm not willing to help with myself.  Of course, any and all
assistance will be greatly appreciated.  Plus, I'll need sponsors! :) I want
to make sure everyone is on the same page for the overall plan so that even if
Ubuntu gets released with Python 2.7 support first (due to different release
schedules), Debian will have everything it needs when the time for Wheezy

My vision for this transition is that it happens as much as possible in
experimental, with syncs back to natty.  I think there are two basic buckets
of work:

* Python 2.7 compatibility

We need to check both build and installation (i.e. for pure Python packages)
compatibility for 2.7.  Fedora has largely completed their transition and I've
spoken to Toshio who pointed me at their repository.  They've submitted
patches upstream, so hopefully it will be a "simple" matter of sync'ing to the
right upstream version, or grabbing the Fedora changes.  We do want to give
proper attribution to the Fedora hackers where appropriate of course.  I've
already done this for cheetah for natty.  Once I actually fix that ftbfs, I'll
look for a sponsor for experimental.

* dh_python2 transition

Piotr and Matthias are keen on transitioning all of our pycentral/pysupport
packaging to dh_python2, and I think we should try to do that as we touch
packages for 2.7 support, though for a first pass, I think we should do this
only where it's easy to change.  For difficult transitions, let's concentrate
first on getting 2.7 support, and noting that the package needs to get
dh_python2'd later.  There will be plenty of time to clean up the stragglers.
python-support and python-central both need updates for Python 2.7.  I have
patches for those changes ready, but they'll need a sponsor.

I want to document the plan, any issues or concerns we need to keep in mind,
and progress on a page under wiki.debian.org/Python so that everyone can
follow along and hopefully participate.

Why is it important to add Python 2.7 support now?  For several reasons:

* Python 2.6 is no longer in upstream maintenance support.  Only security
  fixes will be accepted and it is doubtful that there will be a full 2.6.7
  release (there may be a source-only security release, but only if

* Fedora has already nearly completed their transition to Python 2.7, though
  not yet released.  We don't want to fall behind the curve!

* Wheezy will include Python 2.7 as the default (and possibly only) version,
  so we might as well start the transition work now to give it plenty of time
  to bake.

Why should we begin the switch to dh_python2 now?


Yes it will be work to touch every package, which is why I suggest doing that
opportunistically, while making sure python-support and python-central changes
get us to Python 2.7 in the meantime.  But dh_python2 is the future[*] so we
might as well start getting there.

If any of you are planning on coming to UDS-N next week, I look forward to
meeting you and talking about how we can best make this transition happen.

Eagerly awaiting your comment,

[*] though it's odd to say "the future" where Python 2 is concerned. ;)

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