Apr 10

Python and mod_wsgi on Mac OS X Snow Leopard (oy vey)

I’ve been dabbling with Python Turbogears in the last week. Turbogears is a great framework so far. My biggest like is the loose coupling, allowing you to choose the best component for the job. I’ll write a more detailed blog about the other RAD web development frameworks out there sometime this week, but my biggest dislike of say Rails, Django, and some others, is how they tie you into using their integrated components. You can of course hackishly disable their use/dependency, but not without losing many other features of the framework. In my experience, these type of frameworks are great at getting something up quickly, but they suck when it comes to long term scalability and growth, as you basically end up rewriting the framework to integrate other 3rd party or your own components to the point that it marginalizes the benefits of the framework.

I found out that building Python on a Mac (OS X Snow Leopard) is nearly impossible. You can definitely compile it, but I needed it compiled to work with mod_wsgi, and various modules. I also needed to compile mod_wsgi against a particular version of apache, which required me to compile python as a universal binary to support i386 and x86_64 architectures. That’s where it started to get painful. Snow Leopard is distributed with Python 2.6.1 and supports a 3-way architecture (ppc7400, i386, and x86_64), but the latest python release is 2.6.5, so I tried to compile it. I used a myriad of options…

./configure --prefix=/usr/local/python-2.6.5 \
--enable-framework=/usr/local/python-2.6.5/frameworks \
--enable-universalsdk=/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk \

I also tried to use intel for –with-universal-archs. Both CCFLAGS and LDFLAGS were being set correctly in the Makefile. I even tried setting them explicitly, with no luck: Python’s executable was compiling in all architectures except 64-bit. I wasn’t able to find any references to any such issue anywhere in the user forums and/or on the web. Every reference I saw in compiling python in 64-bit, I tried, with no luck. Evidentally, the Python distributed with Snow Leopard was compiled using some special compile procedures by Apple due to the fact that some packages lack 64-bit compatibility. I couldn’t find any reference to this procedure, nor did I really want to engage is such activity. Come on Python folks, WTF??? Can you either provide compilation instructions, or distribute MacPython as a universal binary including x86_64?

I ended up resorting (unhappily) to using Snow Leopard’s distributed Python and Mac’s web-sharing apache. I compiled mod_wsgi with:

./configure --with-apxs=/usr/sbin/apxs \

and voila, we have a working mod_wsgi install. I really dislike the fact that I wasted days trying to get it to work with Python 2.6.5 and custom apache install, but at least I have something that works now and hopefully won’t slow me down any more.

I’m loving python, as I have sporadically for quite a while, but I’m really missing the JVM with its problem-free installs, jar/war archives, and things just working.

Tags: , ,


  1. Macports is your friend 😀 Fink don’t hurt either 😀

    • Macports is good, but has it’s issues. I use homebrew nowadays. Either way, for what I was doing, macports was failing too. I actually tried it first and was told by the author of mod_wsgi to specifically not use macports because of the i386/x86_64 issues.

  2. Make the switch...

    I got on the Mac train for 2 years, but grew tired of the poor man’s Linux that is OSX. Don’t get me wrong, OSX is worlds better than Windoze, and the marketing phrase, “it just works” is generally true; however, when you pick up a quad core PC laptop with 8GB ram, along with a ripping fast SSD and decent Linux distro (in my case Fedora 13) with Compiz window manager, you will be sooooooooooo happy to have left Job’s marketing genius behind ;-)))))))

    In other words, the problem you have is not mod_wsgi, but rather, you’re not on Linux!

Leave a comment