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bug#35322: AM_PATH_PYTHON incompatible with Python frameworks on macOS

From: Joshua Root
Subject: bug#35322: AM_PATH_PYTHON incompatible with Python frameworks on macOS
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 2021 14:10:21 +1100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.15; rv:78.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/78.7.1

On 2021-2-15 09:16 , Karl Berry wrote:
Unfortunately, simply removing the change to the `base' assignment as
you did in your change, for instance the first hunk,

-    sitedir = sysconfig.get_path('purelib', vars={'base':'$am_py_prefix'})
+    sitedir = sysconfig.get_path('purelib')

will affect any use of AM_PATH_PYTHON in an (it seems to me)
incompatible way. That does not seem viable. It's not even OS-dependent,
since other Mac users might not use --enable-framework.

Evidently the current default for am_py_prefix is analogous to how
Automake treats "lispdir" and others, to make for a coherent system. So
it's not desirable to change these variables' default values in a
system-dependent way.

A python installation configured with --disable-framework will have a different value for base. I guess it's a question of whether the goal is installing modules in a consistent location across different systems, or installing them somewhere where the python on this system will be able to find them.

The documentation says that pythondir is "The directory name for the site-packages subdirectory of the standard Python install tree." I suppose that could be interpreted different ways depending on your chosen value of "standard". Bear in mind that macOS may be unique in that it's normal for python's sys.prefix to be different (a few subdirectories deeper) than the --prefix passed to a configure script. I do wonder if the current approach was designed with the assumption that they would always be the same.

I don't know enough about Python to know if there is some clever way to
handle this. In my naive way, it seems like you just have to override
the directory for your case. I think setting the shell variable
$am_cv_python_pythondir before running configure would do this, although
I confess I haven't tried it.

Just to be clear, --enable-framework is not just the default for MacPorts, it's the default on macOS in general in all recent python versions. It's how the Mac binary installers from python.org are configured. Python won't be able to find modules installed in the location currently chosen by AM_PATH_PYTHON unless its configuration is changed to look there.

I admit I seem not to totally understand the design here based on what you've said above, but it seems like it would be better to have defaults that result in a working installation.

- Josh

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