Everyone should switch to Distribute and off of setuptools

[edit: mention how the fix in Python 2.6.3 may have not belonged in 2.6.3 since it is a micro release]

Python 2.6.3 has a couple of bugs still lingering that warrant a brown bag 2.6.4 release (should be out before the end of the month). One of the "bugs", and the entire reason I am doing this blog post, involves distutils and setuptools. Turns out that for Python 2.6.3 a change was made to distutils that broke setuptools for building extension modules. While the change that broke setuptools is being viewed as improper for a micro release (code shouldn't break in a micro release unless it was really bad semantics being fixed), it did bring to my attention that a lot of people do not know about Distribute.

A problem is that setuptools is no longer maintained. Luckily there is already a solution to this predicament that the wider Python community might not be fully aware of.  Tarek Ziadé forked setuptools and created Distribute, with its first release two months ago, explicitly to provide a library compatible with setuptools that is being actively maintained (and thus has bug fixes). Distribute is a drop-in replacement for setuptools, complete with being able to import it under the setuptools name so that everything will continue to work as if you had setuptools itself installed sans some bugs.

Because Distribute fixes bugs and is a backwards-compatible drop-in replacement I HIGHLY encourage people to change their installs of setuptools to Distribute. Everything will continue to work as Distribute installs itself under the setuptools name to maintain backwards-compatibility. Gentoo has even switched. Plus Distribute 0.6.3 supports Python 3.

So please, if you use setuptools then upgrade to Distribute.