FAQ

On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 1:56 AM, Paul Moore wrote:
On 9 September 2015 at 08:33, Ben Finney wrote:
Contrariwise, I would like to see ?pip? become the canonical invocation
used in all documentation, discussion, and advice; and if there are any
technical barriers to that least-surprising method, to see those
barriers addressed and removed.
There is at least one fundamental, technical, and (so far) unsolveable
issue with using "pip" as the canonical invocation.

pip install -U pip

fails on Windows, because the exe wrapper cannot be replaced by a
process running that wrapper (the "pip" command runs pip.exe which
needs to replace pip.exe, but can't because the OS has it open as the
current running process).

There have been a number of proposals for fixing this, but none have
been viable so far. We'd need someone to provide working code (not
just suggestions on things that might work, but actual working code)
before we could recommend anything other than "python -m pip install
-U pip" as the correct way of upgrading pip. And recommending one
thing when upgrading pip, but another for "normal use" is also
confusing for beginners. (And we have evidence from the pip issue
tracker people *do* find this confusing, and not just beginners...)

At the very least, surely this could be "fixed" by detecting this case
and exiting with a message "Sorry, Windows is annoying and this isn't
going to work, to upgrade pip please type 'python -m pip ...'
instead"? That seems more productive in the short run than trying to
get everyone to stop typing "pip" :-). (Though I do agree that having
pip as a separate command from python is a big mess -- another case
where this comes up is the need for pip versus pip3.)

Apart from that issue, which is Windows only (and thus some people
find it less compelling) we have also had reported issues of people
running pip, and it installs things into the "wrong" Python
installation. This is typically because of PATH configuration issues,
where "pip" is being found via one PATH element, but "python" is found
via a different one. I don't have specifics to hand, so I can't
clarify *how* people have managed to construct such breakage, but I
can state that it happens, and the relevant people are usually very
confused by the results. Again, "python -m pip" avoids any confusion
here - that invocation clearly and unambiguously installs to the
Python installation you invoked.

It sounds like this is another place where in the short term, it would
help a lot of pip at startup took a peek at $PATH and issued some
warnings or errors if it detected the most common types of
misconfiguration? (E.g. the first python/python3 in $PATH does not
match the one being used to run pip.)


-n


--
Nathaniel J. Smith -- http://vorpus.org

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