Do python projects need a, and what should be in it?

The "Python Distribute" guide (was at, but that registration has lapsed) tells me to include doc/txt files and .py files are excluded in file

The sourcedist documentation tells me only sdist uses and only includes file you specify and to include .py files. It also tells me to use: python sdist --manifest-only to generate a MANIFEST, but python tells me this doesn't exist

I appreciate these are from different versions of python and the distribution system is in a complete mess, but assuming I am using python 3 and setuptools (the new one that includes distribute but now called setuptools, not the old setuptools that was deprecated for distribute tools only to be brought back into distribute and distribute renamed to setuptools.....)

and I'm following the 'standard' folder structure and file,

  1. Do I need a ?
  2. What should be in it ?
  3. When will all these different package systems and methods be made into one single simple process ?

Re: "Do I need a

No, you do not have to use Both, distutils and setuptools are including in source distribution package all the files mentioned in - modules, package python files, README.txt and test/test*.py. If this is all you want to have in distribution package, you do not have to use

If you want to manipulate (add or remove) default files to include, you have to use

Re: What should be in it?

The procedure is simple:

  1. Make sure, in your you include (by means of setup arguments) all the files you feel important for the program to run (modules, packages, scripts ...)

  2. Clarify, if there are some files to add or some files to exclude. If neither is needed, then there is no need for using

  3. If is needed, create it. Usually, you add there tests*/*.py files, README.rst if you do not use README.txt, docs files and possibly some data files for test suite, if necessary.

For example:

    include README.rst
    include COPYING.txt

To test it, run python sdist, and examine the tarball created under dist/.

When will all these different package systems ...

Comparing the situation today and 2 years ago - the situation is much much better - setuptools is the way to go. You can ignore the fact, distutils is a bit broken and is low level base for setuptools as setuptools shall take care of hiding these things from you.

EDIT : Last few projects I use pbr for building distribution packages with three line and rest being in setup.cfg and requirements.txt. No need to care about and other strange stuff. Even though the package would deserve a bit more documentation. See


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