David Pratt wrote:
Hi Benji. This is exactly what I have been doing up till now and has been working well for quick work on a local development machine. My current thinking though is to take control of as much of the software as possible so that development == deployment on my local machine to mitigate the risk of breaking things even if it means more disk. I am doing this in conjunction with stripping the deployment server to it's barest bones and bringing as much of the software into the buildout as possible.

I really would like to see a two stage buildout that does the python construction with a python.cfg and then the main buildout with buildout.cfg file as part of the standard fare. I'm trying a few things today to see if a simple event class and callback can be used to create the python first and have the callback's handler run the main buildout as an experiment.

Where you draw the boundary line between the "environment" and the "application" has a big impact on how you make these types of decisions.

You want to find the optimum place to draw that line so you end up getting the most benefit from the least amount of work (it's kind of analogous to the max-flow min-cut theorem from graph theory).

Let me use an example to illustrate. Say you decided to build Python with your buildout. After all, your app uses Python, so to have good reproducibility you want to make sure Python is perfectly clean and built repeatably so you don't get any surprises. Makes sense.

Your app is enjoying increased success and one day you need to add some new servers to your cluster. You buy a few new machines, put your OS on them, and build your app. You then run your tests and they fail.


You investigate and find that your Python was built without support for zip compression because the zlib development libraries aren't included in your base OS install. Now you have a decision to make, do you add zlib to your buildout, or do you add the zlib development package to your OS?

If Python is part of the environment you add the zlib development package to your OS. Of course that means you need a good way of controlling what is in the OS (environment). Conveniently, there are ways to do that (RPM, APT, ports, etc.).

At this point if you draw the app/environment boundary to include Python in your app, you should add zlib to your buildout, right? What happens if you hit a bug in GCC when compiling Python? Do you include GCC in your buildout to make sure you get the right version? It gets worse the deeper you go. :)
Benji York
Senior Software Engineer
Zope Corporation
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