Packaging Mu

Because our target users (beginner programmers and those who support them) may not be confident with the technical requirements for installing packages, we need to make obtaining and setting up Mu as simple and easy as possible.

Furthermore, we aim to make the creation of packages automatic and as simple as possible. By automating this process we ensure that the knowledge and steps needed to package Mu is stored in software (so everyone can see how we do it) and we don’t rely on a volunteer to take time and effort to make things happen. If you submit code and it is accepted into our master branch, within minutes you should have a set of packages for different platforms that includes your changes. Such builds can be found here.

Of course, such builds are not “official” releases. We’ll only do that every so often when major updates land. These will take the form of releases found in our GitHub repository. Such releases will include the “official” installers for supported platforms. The installers referenced on Mu’s website will always be the latest stable release of Mu on GitHub.

Note

Huge thanks to Carlos Pereira Atencio who made considerable efforts to automate and configure the packaging of Mu. Without the contributions of volunteers like Carlos, projects like Mu simply wouldn’t exist. If you find Mu useful why not say thank you to Carlos via Twitter..?

Thank you Carlos! :-)

We package Mu in various different ways so it is as widely available as possible. What follows is a brief description of how each package is generated (some of them require the manual intervention of others outside the Mu project).

Python Package

If you have Python 3.5 or later installed on Windows, OSX or 64-bit Linux and you are familiar with Python’s built-in packaging system, you can install Mu into a virtual environment with pip:

$ pip install mu-editor

Note

By design, pip will not create any shortcuts for applications that it installs.

If you want to add a shortcut for Mu to your desktop/start menu you can use Martin O’Hanlon’s amazingly useful Shortcut tool like this:

$ pip install shortcut
$ shortcut mu

As per conventions, the setup.py file contains all the details used by pip to install it. We use twine to push releases to PyPI and I (Nicholas - maintainer) simply use a Makefile to automate this:

$ make publish-test
$ make publish-live

The make publish-live command is what updates PyPI. The make publish-test command uses the test instance of PyPI so we can confirm the release looks, behaves and works as expected before pushing to live.

Raspberry Pi

When asked, Serge Schneider, a maintainer of Raspbian at the Raspberry Pi Foundation takes our latest release and updates the Raspbian package repositories. It means that all you need to do to install Mu on Raspbian is type:

$ sudo apt-get install mu

Warning

Since Mu for Raspberry Pi is packaged by a third party, our latest releases may not be immediately available.

Windows Installer

Packaging for Windows is essential for the widespread use of Mu since most computers in schools run this operating system. Furthermore, feedback from school network administrators tells us that they prefer installers since these are easier to install “in bulk” to computing labs.

There are two versions of the installer: one for 32bit Windows and the other for 64bit Windows. The 32bit version has been tested on Windows 7 and the 64bit version has been tested on Windows 10. Support for anything other than Windows 10 is important, but a “best effort” affair. If you find you’re having problems please submit a bug report.

The latest unsigned builds for Mu on Windows can be found here.

Mu for Windows contains its own version of Python packaged in such a way that makes it only usable within the context of Mu (Python’s so-called isolated mode). Of course, the version of Python in Mu will have as much or little access to computing resources as the host operating system will allow.

Packaging is automated using the Appveyor cloud based continuous integration solution for Windows. The .appveyor.yml file found in the root of Mu’s repository, configures and describes this process. You can see the history of such builds here.

We use the NSIS tool to build the installers. This process if coordinated by the amazing pynsist utility.

Note

Pynsist is the creation of Thomas Kluyver, who has done an amazing job creating many useful tools and utilities for the wider Python community (for example, Thomas is also responsible for the Jupyter widget Mu uses for the REPL in Python 3 mode).

On several occasions Thomas has volunteered his time to help Mu. Like Carlos, Thomas is another example of the invaluable efforts that go into making Mu. Once again, if you find Mu useful, please don’t hesitate to thank Thomas via Twitter.

Thank you Thomas!

The configuration for pynsist are the win_installer32.cfg and win_installer64.cfg files (one each for 32bit and 64bit installers) in the root of the repository. Please check out the specification for configuration files for more information.

The automated builds are unsigned, so Windows will complain about the software coming from an untrusted source. The official releases will be signed by me (Nicholas Tollervey - the current maintainer) on my local machine using a private key and uploaded to GitHub and associated with the relevant release. The instructions for cyrptographically signing installers explain this process more fully (the details of which are described by Mozilla).

Use the make command to build your own installers:

$ make win32
$ make win64

This will clean the repository before running the win_installer.py command for the requested bitness.

Because Mu depends on the availability of tkinter, part of the build process is to download the appropriate tkinter-related resources from Mu’s tkinter assets repository.

If asked, the command for automatically installing Mu, system wide, should use the following flags:

mu-editor_win64.exe /S /AllUsers

The /S flag tells the installer to work in “silent” mode (i.e. you won’t see the windows shown in the screenshots above) and the /AllUsers flag makes Mu available to all users of the system (i.e. it’s installed “system wide”).

OSX App Installer

We use Travis to automate the building of the .app and .dmg installer (see the .travis file in the root of Mu’s GIT repository for the steps involved). This process is controlled by Briefcase (part of the BeeWare suite of tools which piggy-backs onto the setup.py script to build the necessary assets. To ensure Mu has Python 3 available for it to both run and use for evaluating users’ scripts, we have created a portable/embeddable Python runtime whose automated build scripts can be found in this repository. This (not the version of Python on the user’s machine) the version of Python used by Mu.

The end result of submitting a commit to Mu’s master branch is an automatically generated installable for OSX. These assets are un-signed, so OSX will complain about Mu coming from an unknown developer. However, for full releases we sign the .app with our Apple developer key (a manual process).

Linux Packages

We don’t automatically create packages for Linux distros. However, we liaise with upstream developers to ensure that Mu finds its way into both Debian and Fedora based distributions.

Debian

Work on packaging for Debian is at an advanced stage and ongoing. You can track progress at this ticket.

Fedora

Mu was packaged by Kushal Das for Fedora. However this is an old version of Mu and, as with the Raspberry Pi version, relies on a third party to package it so may lag behind the latest version.

Note

Last, but not least, Kushal does a huge amount of work for both the Fedora and Python communities and is passionate about sustaining our Python community through education outreach. With people like Kushal putting in the time and effort to package tools like Mu and mentor beginner programmers who use Mu our community would flourish less. If you find Mu useful, please don’t hesitate to thank Kushal via Twitter.

Thank you Kushal.