Maintenance of Python implementations

Notes specific to Python interpreters

CPython patchsets

Gentoo is maintaining patchsets for all CPython versions. These include some non-upstreamable Gentoo patches and upstream backports. While it is considered acceptable to add a new patch (e.g. a security bug fix) to files/ directory, it should be eventually moved into the respective patchset.

When adding a new version, it is fine to use an old patchset if it applies cleanly. If it does not, you should regenerate the patchset for new version.

The origin for Gentoo patches are the gentoo-* tags the Gentoo fork of CPython repository. The recommended workflow is to clone the upstream repository, then add Gentoo fork as a remote, e.g.:

git clone
cd cpython
git remote add gentoo
git fetch --tags gentoo

In order to rebase the patchset, check out the tag corresponding to the previous patchset version and rebase it against the upstream release tag:

git checkout gentoo-3.7.4
git rebase v3.7.6

You may also add additional changes via git cherry-pick. Once the new patches are ready, create the tarball and upload it, then create the tag and push it:

mkdir python-gentoo-patches-3.7.6
cd python-gentoo-patches-3.7.6
git format-patch v3.7.6
cd ..
tar -cf python-gentoo-patches-3.7.6.tar python-gentoo-patches-3.7.6
xz -9 python-gentoo-patches-3.7.6.tar
scp python-gentoo-patches-3.7.6.tar.xz ...
git tag gentoo-3.7.6
git push --tags gentoo


Due to high resource requirements and long build time, PyPy on Gentoo is provided both in source and precompiled form. This creates a bit unusual ebuild structure:

  • dev-python/pypy-exe provides the PyPy executable and generated files built from source,

  • dev-python/pypy-exe-bin does the same in precompiled binary form,

  • dev-python/pypy combines the above with the common files. This is the package that runs tests and satisfies the PyPy target.

Matching dev-python/pypy3* exist for PyPy3.

When bumping PyPy, pypy-exe needs to be updated first. Then it should be used to build a binary package and bump pypy-exe-bin. Technically, pypy can be bumped after pypy-exe and used to test it but it should not be pushed before pypy-exe-bin is ready, as it would force all users to switch to source form implicitly.

The binary packages are built using Docker nowadays, using binpkg-docker scripts. To produce them, create a local.diff containing changes related to PyPy bump and run amd64-pypy (and/or amd64-pypy3) and x86-pypy (and/or x86-pypy3) make targets:

git clone
cd binpkg-docker
(cd ~/git/gentoo && git diff origin) > local.diff
make amd64-pypy amd64-pypy3 x86-pypy x86-pypy3

The resulting binary packages will be placed in your home directory, in ~/binpkg/${arch}/pypy. Upload them and use them to bump pypy-exe-bin.

Adding a new Python implementation

Eclass and profile changes


The best time to perform these changes is prior to adding the first beta of new Python version. This is because dev-lang/python has a conditional dependency on dev-lang/python-exec for non-alpha versions, so adding the target prior to committing it ensures depgraph consistency.

When adding a new Python target, please remember to perform all the following tasks:

  • add the new target flags to profiles/desc/python_targets.desc and python_single_target.desc.

  • force the new implementation on dev-lang/python-exec via profiles/base/package.use.force.

  • mask the new target flags on stable profiles via profiles/base/use.stable.mask.

  • update python-utils-r1.eclass:

    1. add the implementation to _PYTHON_ALL_IMPLS

    2. update the patterns in _python_verify_patterns

    3. update the patterns in _python_set_impls

    4. update the patterns in _python_impl_matches

    5. add the appropriate dependency to the case for PYTHON_PKG_DEP

  • update the tested version range in eclass/tests/

  • add the new implementation to the list in app-portage/gpyutils/files/implementations.txt.

  • update the implementation tables on Gentoo wiki

Porting initial packages

The initial porting is quite hard due to a number of circular dependencies. To ease the process, it is recommended to temporarily limit testing of the packages that feature many additional test dependencies. The packages needing this have implementation conditions in place already. An example follows:

 PYTHON_TESTED=( python3_{8..10} pypy3 )
 PYTHON_COMPAT=( "${PYTHON_TESTED[@]}" python3_11 )

     test? (
         $(python_gen_cond_dep '
         ' "${PYTHON_TESTED[@]}")

 python_test() {
     has "${EPYTHON}" "${PYTHON_TESTED[@]/_/.}" || continue

     HOME="${PWD}" epytest setuptools

It is important to remember to update the implementation range and therefore enable testing once the test dependencies are ported. Please do not remove the conditions entirely, as they will be useful for the next porting round.

If only a non-significant subset of test dependencies is a problem, it is better to make these dependencies conditional and run the remainder of the test suite. If tests are not skipped automatically due to missing dependencies, using has_version to skip them conditionally is preferred over hardcoding version ranges, e.g.:

     test? (
         $(python_gen_cond_dep '
         ' pypy3 python3_{8..10}  # TODO: python3_11

 python_test() {
     local EPYTEST_DESELECT=()
     if ! has_version "dev-python/pydantic[${PYTHON_USEDEP}]"; then

During the initial testing it is acceptable to be more lenient on test failures, and deselect failing tests on the new implementation when the package itself works correctly for its reverse dependencies. For example, during Python 3.11 porting we have deselected a few failing tests on dev-python/attrs to unblock porting dev-python/pytest. Porting pytest in order to enable testing packages was far more important than getting 100% passing tests on dev-python/attrs.

The modern recommendation for the porting process is to focus on dev-python/pytest as the first goal. It is the most common test dependency for Python packages, and porting it makes it possible to start testing packages early. The initial ported package set should include all dependencies of pytest, except for test dependencies of the package with large test dependency graphs (dev-python/pytest itself, dev-python/setuptools). This amounts to around 40 packages.

Note that emerging the initial set requires installing dev-python/pytest with USE=-test first. Once it is installed, the previously installed dependencies should be reinstalled with tests enabled.

After pushing the initial batch, the next recommended goal is dev-python/urllib3. It should be followed by focusing on reenabling tests in the packages where they were skipped.

Removing a Python implementation


The obsolescence of the implementation needs to be announced on mailing lists, along with request to proceed with porting packages to a newer implementation. The package lists found on QA reports can be used to track the porting progress.

As the time for removal approaches, the packages showing no signs of porting effort (except for backports, i.e. packages dedicated to the old implementation and used only conditionally to it) need to be masked for removal.

Eclass and profile changes

Rather than being removed entirely, old targets are implicitly disabled via the eclass. This ensures that old entries in PYTHON_COMPAT do not trigger errors.

When disabling an old target, please remember to:

  • remove the dev-lang/python-exec dependency from the interpreter ebuilds (with a revision bump)

  • mask and remove the remaining backport packages immediately (they would fail to source once the only listed implementation is disabled but the mask should remain to hint users at the removal)

  • update the tested version range in eclass/tests/

  • update python-utils-r1.eclass:

    1. move the implementation from _PYTHON_ALL_IMPLS to _PYTHON_HISTORICAL_IMPLS

    2. update the patterns in _python_set_impls

    3. remove the respective case for PYTHON_PKG_DEP

  • remove the use of implementation flags from profiles/ tree

  • remove the flags from profiles/desc/python_targets.desc and profiles/desc/python_single_target.desc

  • set the implementation status to dead in app-portage/gpyutils/files/implementations.txt

  • update the implementation tables on Gentoo wiki

Python build system bootstrap

Python build systems are often facing the bootstrap problem — that is, the build system itself has some dependencies, while these dependencies require the same build system to build. The common upstream way (actually recommended in PEP 517 build requirements section) is to bundle the necessary dependencies as part of the build system. However, this goes against best Gentoo practices.

The current Gentoo practice for bootstrap with dependency unbundling is to:

  1. Install the dependencies of flit_core and the eclass PEP 517 logic (installer, tomli) manually using python_domodule.

  2. Install flit_core using the standalone PEP 517 backend.

  3. Install the dependencies of setuptools using flit (writing trivial pyproject.toml within the ebuild if necessary).

  4. Install setuptools using the standalone PEP 517 backend.

  5. The dependencies of other build systems can be installed using flit, setuptools or other previously unbundled build systems.

Note that for the purpose of bootstrap only obligatory baseline dependencies are considered significant. Non-obligatory dependencies (i.e. ones that can be missing during the bootstrap process) can be placed in PDEPEND. Test suite dependencies can include cycles with the package itself — running tests is not considered obligatory during the bootstrap process.

flit_core has been chosen as the base build system for unbundling since it has the fewest external dependencies (i.e. only depends on tomli). Its author indicates in the flit_core vendoring README that no other dependencies will be added or vendored into flit_core.