Running Distributions

Extracting Distributions

Distributions are defined as zstandard-compressed tarballs.

Modern versions of tar support zstandard and you can extract like any normal archive:

$ tar -axvf path/to/distribution.tar.zstd

(The -a argument tells tar to guess the compression format by the file extension.)

If you do not have tar, you can install and use the zstd tool (typically available via a zstd or zstandard system package):

$ zstd -d path/to/distribution.tar.zstd
$ tar -xvf path/to/distribution.tar

If you want to extract the distribution with Python, use the zstandard Python package:

import tarfile
import zstandard

with open("path/to/distribution.tar.zstd", "rb") as ifh:
    dctx = zstandard.ZstdDecompressor()
    with dctx.stream_reader(ifh) as reader:
        with"r|", fileobj=reader) as tf:

Runtime Requirements


The produced Linux binaries have minimal references to shared libraries and thus can be executed on most Linux systems.

The following shared libraries are referenced:

  • (required by ctypes extension)
  • (required by crypt extension)

The minimum glibc version required is 2.17. This should make binaries compatible with the following Linux distributions:

  • Fedora 21+
  • RHEL/CentOS 7+
  • openSUSE 13.2+
  • Debian 8+ (Jessie)
  • Ubuntu 14.04+

If built with MUSL, no shared library dependencies nor glibc version requirements exist and the binaries should just work on practically any Linux system.


Windows distributions require Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 or newer. (The official Python distributions support Windows 7 up to Python 3.8 and dropped support for Windows 7 with Python 3.9. However, we’ve decided to drop support for Windows 7 from our Windows distributions.)

Windows binaries have a dependency on the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable, likely from MSVC 2015 (vcruntime140.dll). This dependency is not provided in the distribution and will need to be provided by downstream distributors.


Python and its various dependencies are governed by varied software use licenses. This impacts the rights and requirements of downstream consumers.

Most licenses are fairly permissive. Notable exceptions to this are GDBM and readline, which are both licensed under GPL Version 3. Python 3.10 and newer distributions do not link against GDBM and readline and are not GPL encumbered. Older Python distributions may link against these libraries and may be subject to the GPL.

It is important to understand the licensing requirements when integrating the output of this project into derived works. To help with this, the JSON document describing the Python distribution contains licensing metadata and the archive contains copies of license texts.

Reconsuming Build Artifacts

Produced Python distributions contain object files and libraries for the built Python and its dependencies. It is possible for downstream consumers to take these build artifacts and link them into a new binary.

Reconsuming the build artifacts this way can be a bit fragile due to incompatibilities between the host that generated them and the target that is consuming them.

To ensure optimal compatibility, it is highly recommended to use the same toolchain for all operations.

This is often harder than it sounds. For example, if these build artifacts were to be combined into a Rust binary, the version of LLVM that the Rust compiler itself was built against can matter. As a concrete example, the Rust 1.31 compiler will produce LLVM intrinsics that vary from intrinsics that would be produced with LLVM/Clang 7. At linking time, you would get errors like the following:

Intrinsic has incorrect argument type!
void (i8*, i8, i64, i1)* @llvm.memset.p0i8.i64

In the future, we will allow configuring the toolchain used so it can match requirements of downstream consumers. For the moment, we hard-code the toolchain version.