Thursday, November 6. 2008

Installing Python 2.6 on Ubuntu 8.04

I wanted to 'upgrade' my python from 2.5 to 2.6 on Ubuntu. Unfortunately, I could not find .deb packages for Ubuntu. Fortunately, the Python 2.6 sources (sig) are available, so I can compile it from source. Here's what I had to do to get it running. (Short version: apt-get build-dep python2.5 and apply this patch to disable unavailable and outdated modules.)

I have Python 2.5 installed and wanted to keep it, as Ubuntu 8.04 is a long term support version and I did not want to break this support by changing to a maybe non-compatible Python version.

Python uses a configure-style installation procedure. First, extract the Python sources:

tar xzf Python-2.6.tgz
cd Python-2.6

I configured Python to stay out of my usual directories and install itself to /opt/python2.6:

./configure --prefix=/opt/python2.6
make

I thought that's all, however I get an error message like this:

Failed to find the necessary bits to build these modules:
_hashlib           _ssl               bsddb185
bz2                gdbm               readline
sunaudiodev
To find the necessary bits, look in setup.py in detect_modules() for the module's name.

The easiest way to fix is to install the build dependencies for Python 2.5, because they seem to be identical to the build dependencies of Python 2.6:

apt-get build-dep python2.5
make

However, there's still an error message:

Failed to find the necessary bits to build these modules:
bsddb185           sunaudiodev
To find the necessary bits, look in setup.py in detect_modules() for the module's name.

bsddb185 refers to the historic version 1.85 of Berkeley DB (now Oracle Berkeley DB), and sunaudiodev is necessary for audio stuff on Sun. I'm wondering why Python tried to find 'the necessary bits to build these modules', as I don't run a 1.85 version of Berkeley DB, nor do I use Sun. Unfortunately, I could not find any documentation on how to switch off compiling these sources. I guess, this could be improved.

Anyways, hacking setup.py was the way to go. Of course, it is not as easy as adding bsddb185 and sunaudiodev to the disabled_modules list at the beginning of setup.py. So I hacked the (bogus) test for the modules in detect_modules like the error message suggested, resulting in this patch.

patch -p1 < python2.6-disable-old-modules.patch
make
sudo make install

This installed python 2.6 into /opt/python2.6. Set up links to your bin directory, and you're done.

ln -s /opt/python2.6/bin/python2.6 ~/.root/bin/python-2.6
ln -s /opt/python2.6/bin/pydoc ~/.root/bin/pydoc-2.6

Usually, I use checkinstall, but this time everything is nicely packed into /opt/python2.6, which I can just delete, should I ever want to get rid of Python 2.6 (which I doubt).

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