Building Mac Python from source

This document explains how to build MacPython from source. This is necessary if you want to make modifications to the Python core. Building Python is not something to be undertaken lightly, you need a reasonable working knowledge of the CodeWarrior development environment, a good net connection and probably quite some time too.

The information density in this file is high, so you should probably print it and read it at your leasure. Most things are explained only once (and probably in the wrong place:-).

First a warning: this information may become outdated if a new CodeWarrior is released after MacPython. The MacPython homepage will hopefully have updated instructions in that case.
I am very interested in feedback on this document, send your comments to the Mac Python Special Interest Group.

What you need.

The following things you definitely need: The MacPython project files are configured to include a plethora of optional modules, and these modules need a number of extra packages. To use the project files as-is you have to download these packages too. Python has all such modules as dynamically loaded modules, so if you don't need a certain package it suffices to just refrain from builing the extension module. Here are the locations for the various things you need:

Setting Up

Now that you have collected everything you should start with building the various parts. If you don't want to fix access paths try to set things up as follows:
	Tcl/Tk Folder
		MoreFiles 1.4.3
If your setup of the libraries is exactly the same as mine (which is not very likely, unless you happen to work from the same CVS repository) you can use the project buildlibs.prj in the :Mac:Build folder to build all needed libraries in one fell swoop, otherwise you will have to build the libraries one by one.

First build GUSI, both the norla one and the Carbon variant.

Next, in libjpeg, pbmplus, zlib, libpng, gdbm, andlibtiff you build all projects. Usually the projects are in "mac" subfolders, sometimes they are in the main folder. Tcl/tk is a special case, see below.

Building Tcl/Tk

The Tcl/Tk 8.3.0 source distribution does not work on the Mac. I have created an archive of the sources that I used to build _tkinter for MacPython, you can obtain this from Only the libraries needed to build _tkinter for PPC have been fixed.

Note that if you use a different release of Tcl and Tk than the ones I have used you may have to adapt the Python tkresources.rsrc file. This is easiest done by building SimpleTk and copying the TEXT, ICON and CRSR resources from it to tkresources.rsrc. This allows the _tkinter module to work without an installed Tk/Tcl on your machine.

Also note that the _tkinter.ppc.slb that is normally distributed in the PlugIns folder is the one from the Imaging extension, which has some extra features needed by PIL (and which features should not hinder normal operation). Build first the Tcl library, then SimpleTcl (test it by typing ls -l in the window you get) then the Tk library, then SimpleTk (which can again be tested with ls -l). If this all worked you are all set to try building Python.

Building Waste

You do not need to build the Waste libraries, as Python includes the source modules themselves.

The organization of the Python source tree

Time for a short break, while we have a look at the organization of the Python source tree. At the top level, we find the following folders:
Demo programs that are not Mac-specific. Some of these may not work.
Extensions to the interpreter that are not Mac-specific. Contains the img, Imaging and Numerical extensions in this distribution.
The Python grammar. Included for reference only, you cannot build the parser on a Mac.
Machine-independent header files.
Machine-independent optional modules. Not all of these will work on the Mac.
Machine-independent code for various object types. Most of these are not really optional: the interpreter will not function without them.
The Python parser (machine-independent).
The core interpreter. Most files are machine-independent, some are unix-specific and not used on the Mac.
Tools for python developers. Contains modulator which builds skeleton C extension modules, bgen which generates complete interface modules from information in C header files and freeze which is used to turn Python scripts into real applications (used by MacFreeze and BuildApplication) There are some readme files, but more documentation is sorely needed.
All the mac-specific stuff lives in the Mac folder:
This is where the project files live and where you build the libraries, shared libraries, executables and plugin modules. All the resulting binaries, except for intermedeate results, are deposited in the toplevel folder or the Mac:PlugIns folder (for plugin modules).
Unix-compatability routines. Most of these are not used anymore, since GUSI provides a rather complete emulation, but you may need these if you are trying to build a non-GUSI python.
Mac-specific demo programs, some of them annotated.
Mac-specific but compiler-independent include files.
Mac-specific standard modules. The toolbox folder contains modules specifically needed with various MacOS toolbox interface modules.
Mac-specific builtin modules. Theoretically these are all optional, but some are rather essential (like macosmodule). A lot of these modules are generated with bgen, in which case the bgen input files are included so you can attempt to regenerate them or extend them.
MPW-specific files. These have not been used or kept up-to-date for a long time, so use at your own risk.
Mwerks-specific sources and headers. Contains glue code for Pythons shared-library architecture, a replacement for malloc and a directory with various projects for building variations on the Python interpreter. The mwerks_*.h files here are the option-setting files for the various interpreters and such, comparable to the unix command-line -D options to the compiler. Each project uses the correct option file as its "prefix file" in the "C/C++ language" settings. Disabling optional modules (for the 68K interpreter), building non-GUSI interpreters and various other things are accomplished by modifying these files (and possibly changing the list of files included in the project window, of course).
This is where the Classic and Carbon dynamically-loaded plugin modules live.
Mac-specific parts of the core interpreter.
Resource files needed to build the interpreter.
A collection of various mac-specific Python scripts. Some are essential, some are useful but few are documented, so you will have to use your imagination to work them out.
A collection of tools, usually bigger than those in the scripts folder. The important ones here are the IDE and macfreeze. The IDE is built with the script, which puts the resulting applet in the toplevel folder. Macfreeze is usually invoked through the BuildApplication script, but for more control over the freezing process you can run the main script here.
Modules that are not supported any longer but may still work with a little effort.

Building the PPC interpreter

This is different under 2.1. You are best off using the script, see below.

First you optionally build the external libraries with buildlibs.prj. Next, the projects for interpreter and core library are linked together, so building the PythonInterpreterClassic and/or PythonInterpreterCarbon target in PythonInterpreter.prj will result in everything being built. The result, however, is an "Application template", (filetype Atmp). If you don't use fullbuild you can manually turn either of these into an interpreter by copying it to PythonInterpreter and setting the filetype to APPL (with ResEdit or some such).

Fullbuild does this for you, and the Atmp files is also how ConfigurePythonCarbon and ConfigurePythonClassic work their magic.

For completeness sake here is a breakdown of the projects:

The shared library that contains the bulk of the interpreter and its resources. It has targets for PythonCore and PythonCoreCarbon. It is a good idea to immedeately put an alias to this shared library in the Extensions folder of your system folder. Do exactly that: put an alias there, copying or moving the file will cause you grief later if you rebuild the library and forget to copy it to the extensions folder again. The ConfigurePythonXXX applets will also do this.
The interpreter. This is basically a routine to call out to the shared library. Unlike in previous releases the same program is used for creating applets (for which formerly PythonApplet was used).

Plugin projects
Each plugin module has a separate project, and these can be rebuilt on the fly. Fullbuild (or actually it's little helper genpluginprojects) takes care of this.
After creating the alias to PythonCore you remove any old Python XXXX Preferences file from the Preferences folder (if you had python installed on your system before) and run the interpreter once to create the correct preferences file.

Next, you have to build the extension modules. If you don't use fullbuild simply open each project and build it.

Finally, you must build the standard applets: EditPythonPrefs, BuildApplet, etc. For the N-th time: fullbuild does this for you, but you can also manually drag/drop them onto BuildApplet.

The fullbuild script can be used to build everything, but you need a fully-functional interpreter before you can use it (and one that isn't rebuilt in the process: you cannot rebuild a running program). You could copy the interpreter to a different place and use that to run fullbuild. The PythonStandSmall.prj project builds an interpreter that is suited to this, and it can also come in handy if you need to debug things (which is easier in a static program).

You are all set now, and should read the release notes and ReadMe file from the Mac folder.

Rebuilding .exp files

Occasionally it may be necessary to rebuild your PythonCore .exp file, a file that controls which symbols are exported by your PythonCore shared library. Rebuild it if you get unexpected undefined symbols when you are building a plugin module.

Rebuilding the .exp file is done by first both removing the file and removing the reference to it in the project (in the "config" section). Next, build PythonCore or PythonCoreCarbon. This will create a new .exp file, with the name PythonCore.mcp.exp. Rename this file to either PythonCore.exp or PythonCoreCarbon.exp and add this file back to the project. Next, edit ot to remove the references to the symbols __initialize, __terminate, setjmp, longjmp, vec_longjmp, main and __ptmf_null. They are all close together about halfway the file. Finally rebuild again.

This rather convoluted procedure is needed to ensure that plugin modules don't accidentally link with those entrypoints from PythonCore, which will not work because those routines have to be in the same code fragment as they are used from.

Using the CVS source archive

It is possible (and probably best) to access the Python sources through remote CVS. The advantage of this is that you get the very latest sources, so any bug fixed or new features will be immedeately available. This is also the disadvantage, of course: as this is the same tree as is used for development it may sometimes be a little less stable.

The CVS client of choice is Alexandre Parenteau's MacCVS. It can be obtained through the WinCVS homepage. MacCVS uses Internet Config to set file types correctly based on the filename extension. In the maccvs preferences you should also set (in the "binary files" section) "use mac encoding: applesingle" and (in the "text files" section) "use ISO latin 1 conversion".

There is one group of people for whom MacCVS is not the best choice: people with checkin rights to the Python repository. You will have to use MacCVS Pro (completely unrelated) from, because it has working SSH support.
It is a good idea to disable Quicktime Exchange in the Quicktime control panel. Quicktime Exchange will magically map some extensions to filetypes, and this can seriously hinder you if, for instance, .bmp is not a Windows bitmap file.

The Python sources are checked out from the main Python CVS archive on, see the Source access via CVS page for details. When you check the sources out you will get something like Python:dist:src, and under that the Modules, Lib, Mac etc hierarchy. The src folder can be renamed to Python, and is what this document refers to as the "toplevel Python folder".

The CVS repository does not contain all the projects for the plugin modules, these are built with normally. For this reason it is probably a good idea to first build PythonStandSmall.prj, which builds a fairly minimal interpreter, and then follow the fullbuild instructions.

Odds and ends

Some remarks that I could not fit in elsewhere: