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I have a shell script which installs all required packages for a project. Some of those packages are Python 3 based and require to compile things and for this the Python sources need to be installed1 (e.g. the python3-dev package in common Debian-based distributions). Otherwise, unintelligible/misleading compile error messages will be displayed (missing header files) which is something I want to prevent.

Now I thought it might be best to try to detect whether the Python 3 sources are already installed and in case they aren't not even attempt to run pip but instead instruct the user to get the Python sources for his/her distribution and maybe also some instructions for the most common ones.

In short: How can I reliably detect whether the Python 3 header files are installed on various distributions (and maybe even in non-Linux environments going as far as Cygwin)?


1. The package is mypy and parts of the error messages include:

ast27/Parser/acceler.c:13:25: fatal error: pgenheaders.h: No such file or directory
compilation terminated.

[…]

 Command "/path/to/my/venv/bin/python -u -c "import setuptools, tokenize;__file__='/tmp/pip-build-x0e2zn8t/typed-ast/setup.py';f=getattr(tokenize, 'open', open)(__file__);code=f.read().replace('\r\n', '\n');f.close();exec(compile(code, __file__, 'exec'))" install --record /tmp/pip-uythmwn1-record/install-record.txt --single-version-externally-managed --compile --install-headers /path/to/my/venv/include/site/python3.5/typed-ast" failed with error code 1 in /tmp/pip-build-x0e2zn8t/typed-ast/

  • Would a kind of find / -type f -name 'whatever is needed' or a kind of condition check like [[ -f file_required ]] provide a good info? – George Vasiliou Jan 28 '17 at 1:13
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I found a solution, basically I just need to check for the existence of python3-config in the PATH (command -v python3-config >/dev/null), this signifies that here are Python 3 development files.

If I would want to go even further I could theoretically also use this tool to get the include directories which I could check for some of the particular header files required but I see no need for this.

BTW, applies to Python 2 and Python 2.7+ similarly (python2-config and python2.7-config respectively).

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