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Python in the Sourceforge Trove


There are now over a thousand Python-related projects listed in the Sourceforge Software Map, also known as the "trove". While only a few hundred of these projects are active, I still think of it as a milestone. Among the top 20 most active Python projects in the trove are ones you would expect, like Python itself, Jython, wxWindows, Python/XML, Mailman, but there were a few I hadn't heard of: Gramps, Donald Allingham's genealogy program and the University of Pennsylvania's Nareau Cluster Tools.

Gramps is written for Unix systems and uses PyGtk for its interface. It's simple and intuitive. It gave me a reason to dig out my genealogy files and enter some information on my long dead relatives. Gramps saves this information in its own XML format, though it can also import and export GEDCOM files. Allingham has also put in a very flexible reporting system and support for plugins. You can write your own extensions using Python and Glade, the Gtk+ user interface builder. These features could use some documentation. Actually, the program itself could use documentation. Fortunately it's Python and you can use the source. But documentation would be helpful.

The Nareau Cluster Tools are utilities for setting up and maintaining Beowulf clusters. The goal is to create a complete set of tools for turnkey clusters. Currently it consists of a single tool, Clubmask, an install tool with a web interface. You can use it to create kickstart configuration files for your cluster machines. The tool uses the kickstart file to run a RedHat Linux install on each node and reboot the system. It then reconfigures their /etc/hosts, /etc/hosts.equiv/, and /root/.rhosts files with a short naming scheme. If you have a bunch of systems lying around, you might want to try using Clubmask to turn them into a distributed power machine.

Also among the top 20 Python-related projects are those with Python bindings or projects using Python as an embedded scripting language. Crystal Space 3D, a 3D game engine with Python scripting support, was listed as the second most active Python project, and wxWindows, the cross platform GUI development tool for C++, was listed as the third most active Python project. While it may be stretching things to call these "Python projects" they do show the broad appeal of Python as an application scripting tool.

These might not be the top 20 when you check the trove. Activity levels change all the time. Touring the trove, you might find some other treasures you hadn't heard of before. If you are looking for a project to contribute to, you could use the listing to find hot projects. If you are feeling bold, you could also browse the low end of least active projects, You might find a dusty gem waiting for a new champion to come along and get it going again.

Stephen Figgins administrates Linux servers for Sunflower Broadband, a cable company.

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