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Title: Support system readline on OS X 10.6
Type: enhancement Stage:
Components: Build, Extension Modules, macOS Versions: Python 3.1, Python 3.2, Python 2.7, Python 2.6
Status: closed Resolution: duplicate
Dependencies: Superseder:
Assigned To: ronaldoussoren Nosy List: eric.smith, loewis, mark.dickinson, purpleidea, ronaldoussoren, zvezdan
Priority: normal Keywords: patch

Created on 2009-09-09 19:03 by mark.dickinson, last changed 2022-04-11 14:56 by admin. This issue is now closed.

File name Uploaded Description Edit
snow_leopard_readline.patch mark.dickinson, 2009-09-09 19:04
Messages (12)
msg92457 - (view) Author: Mark Dickinson (mark.dickinson) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-09 19:03
The readline library supplied in OS X 10.6 looks good enough to use in 
Python.  It would be nice to enable building with this library, to avoid 
having to install GNU readline.

There's a curious off-by-one difference between Apple's readline (which, 
as I understand it, is just libedit wrapped to look like libreadline) 
and GNU readline:  with 'n' history items, the valid indices for Apple's 
readline are 0 through n-1;  for GNU they're 1 through n.

I was able to get Python trunk + system readline working on OS X 10.6 
using the attached patch (which obviously isn't suitable for applying, 
since it breaks the build with a non-system readline).  A side effect of 
the patch is that readline.get_history_item and friends store the first 
history entry with index 0 rather than 1:

Python 2.7a0 (trunk:74735M, Sep  9 2009, 19:40:25) 
[GCC 4.2.1 (Apple Inc. build 5646)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import readline
[39474 refs]
>>> readline.get_history_item(0)
'import readline'
[39476 refs]
>>> readline.get_history_item(2)
[39476 refs]

Interestingly, the Apple-supplied Python also behaves this way:

Mark-Dickinsons-MacBook-Pro:trunk dickinsm$ python
Python 2.6.1 (r261:67515, Jul  7 2009, 23:51:51) 
[GCC 4.2.1 (Apple Inc. build 5646)] on darwin
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import readline
>>> readline.get_history_item(0)
'import readline'
>>> readline.get_history_item(2)

If people think this is worth pursuing, I'll put together a proper 
msg92458 - (view) Author: Mark Dickinson (mark.dickinson) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-09 19:04
And here's the patch.
msg92460 - (view) Author: Ronald Oussoren (ronaldoussoren) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-09 19:18
I wouldn't mind having a proper patch and doing away with the need for 
GNU's readline.

IMHO the patch should try to stay as close to GNU readline's interface 
as possible, and should therefore fix the off-by-one difference you 

BTW. I suppose the configuration (readline.parse_and_bind) needs to be 
in libedit format rather than readline format. If so, we should add 
something to the readline documentation about that and possibly add 
something to the readline library to make it possible to detect if 
readline is ultimately linked to libedit.

BTW. If you want to push the Apple's readline to the limit you should 
try if it works properly with ipython. It used to cause hard crashes 
with Apple's python in 10.5.
msg92463 - (view) Author: Mark Dickinson (mark.dickinson) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-09 19:55
Hmm.  This is looking like a bigger task than I bargained for.  I notice 
that the readline library currently has no tests (or maybe I'm just 
failing to find them).  I'm not even sure how to go about writing tests 
for readline.

> IMHO the patch should try to stay as close to GNU readline's interface 
> as possible, and should therefore fix the off-by-one difference you 
> mention.

I suppose so.  I'm a bit worried about subtle bugs occurring as a result 
of fixing off-by-one differences in some places and missing them in 
others;  it seems safer to provide direct access to the library behaviour 
without trying to fix anything.  Third-party stuff that wants to work with 
Apple's Python is also going to have to deal with zero-based history.  So 
I guess I'd prefer not to fix the off-by-one difference;  this would make 
it even more important to provide some way for users to tell whether 
they're using GNU readline or the wrapped libedit version.

Thanks for the ipython suggestion;  I've never used it before, but I'll 
see if I can play around with it a bit.
msg92475 - (view) Author: Martin v. Löwis (loewis) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-10 08:57
I also agree that this is desirable to have, and that the readline module 
should provide the GNU semantics even with a different implementation.
msg92485 - (view) Author: Zvezdan Petkovic (zvezdan) * Date: 2009-09-10 13:37
This patch could potentially break non-Mac OS X systems.
Fortunately, I have a patch that works with systems that use GNU 
readline and systems that use editline emulation. See issue 6877.

Unfortunately, I was lingering for over a year with opening a tracker 
issue for it.  Last night I did the last testing session with the trunk 
checkout and I did not notice that this issue has been opened in the 

Sorry for opening the double issue.
I think that the patch from issue 6877 should be used.
msg92486 - (view) Author: Zvezdan Petkovic (zvezdan) * Date: 2009-09-10 13:43
Also, the patch from issue 6877 changes in a way that enables 
build of the readline module on Leopard as well.

Such build is used for about two years already (Python 2.4) by several 
people in my company and nobody noticed any issues on Mac OS X Leopard.
AFAICT, it works the same now on Snow Leopard.
msg92492 - (view) Author: James (purpleidea) Date: 2009-09-10 16:41
it seems to me, that any and all readline interfaces should/could
standardize to the indexing scheme as used by the language; maybe i'm
wrong, but since python is zero based, so could the readline interfaces.

it's definitely more logical for a python programmer to expect
zero-based, and the code will match with the python code.

i would propose that everything be zero-based;
this is duplicate/similar of/to
msg92653 - (view) Author: Ronald Oussoren (ronaldoussoren) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-15 20:15
purpleidea : Whether or not indexes should be 0-based in general is beyond 
the scope of this issue.
msg92655 - (view) Author: Ronald Oussoren (ronaldoussoren) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-15 21:13
I've added an updated patch to issue 6877 that implements the same 1-based 
indexing as GNU's readline and also adds a note to the documentation to 
warn users about the possibility of linking the readline module to 

That patch would, possibly with clearer documentation, IMHO fix this 
msg92896 - (view) Author: Ronald Oussoren (ronaldoussoren) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-20 14:55
This is a duplicate of issue 6877, I'm therefore closing this one.

I've just committed a slightly updated patch from that issue to the trunk 
and 3.2.
msg93093 - (view) Author: Mark Dickinson (mark.dickinson) * (Python committer) Date: 2009-09-24 20:18
Thanks for working on this, Ronald.
Date User Action Args
2022-04-11 14:56:52adminsetgithub: 51121
2009-09-24 20:18:12mark.dickinsonsetmessages: + msg93093
2009-09-20 14:55:53ronaldoussorensetstatus: open -> closed
resolution: duplicate
messages: + msg92896
2009-09-15 21:13:41ronaldoussorensetmessages: + msg92655
2009-09-15 20:15:38ronaldoussorensetmessages: + msg92653
2009-09-10 16:41:04purpleideasetnosy: + purpleidea
messages: + msg92492
2009-09-10 14:16:53eric.smithsetnosy: + eric.smith
2009-09-10 13:43:07zvezdansetmessages: + msg92486
2009-09-10 13:37:05zvezdansetnosy: + zvezdan
messages: + msg92485
2009-09-10 08:57:50loewissetnosy: + loewis
messages: + msg92475
2009-09-09 19:55:46mark.dickinsonsetmessages: + msg92463
2009-09-09 19:18:11ronaldoussorensetmessages: + msg92460
2009-09-09 19:04:21mark.dickinsonsetfiles: + snow_leopard_readline.patch
keywords: + patch
messages: + msg92458
2009-09-09 19:03:27mark.dickinsoncreate