Python Notes

Friday, February 18, 2005

Trac is great!

Well. I may be exaggerating a little bit, but for people like me that easily get lost in the transition from the big picture into the details of the software, Trac is a great tool. My initial experience with Trac was due to the CherryPy project, that adopted it a while ago. Later, I participated in a private project that also relied on Trac for documentation and ticket management. It's a great tool. It lives up to the promise in its web page: to be an inobstrusive tool for software development management. It's still a 0.8 release, but if it keeps going this way, it's going to be a great success.

That said, I had some troubles setting up Trac in my main development machine. I had a Linux box, running Ubuntu Warty. I tried to download Trac in several formats: the official 0.8 release from SourceForge, the subversion-hosted version, and the Debian package. I installed all dependencies (for example, ClearSilver, a high-performance template package written in C and with bindings for Python). But I couldn't make it work. It always complained about something wrong with the database. I gave up, waiting for a new release to try again.

This week, I had a big problem with my PC, due to some mixups between packages from Debian unstable and Warty (I know, I was not supposed to be doing that, but I needed to use some stuff from unstable, and I had to try). It seemed to me to be a good opportunity to move to Hoary, the upcoming version from Ubuntu. It involves some risk, because I was going to rely on inherently unstable stuff. And the ride was rough, it must be said, but in the end -- and after a good day of downloading fixes and tracking dependencies -- I had everything working in a better shape than before. Now I have the newest version of Eric working (one of the limitations of Warty was its support for new Qt versions; the situation improved in Hoary). And at last, I decided to try Trac again.

I resumed working from the 0.8 tar file that I had downloaded a few weeks ago. I installed it running the standard ' install' invocation, which worked flawlessly. My customizations for Apache were kept in the upgrade, so I didn't had to redo it. But when I tried to run, it complaining about a missing neo_cgi module. It turned out that I only had ClearSilver for Python 2.3, and the new Hoary is running Python 2.4 by default. At this point I had to make my mind on whether to hunt new packages on the repository, or to solve it in a practical but less apt-friendly way, by installing such extra packages from the source distribution. I ended up choosing the later route. So I'm not relying on the official repository for such stuff, which is a shame, but made things more practical for me at this point.

I installed ClearSilver from the source (which complained quite a lot about some settings, again, because the standard installation script was broken for both Python 2.3 and Python 2.4 -- which is kind of weird). The fix is simple, and involves a few patches to the configure script:

# include 2.4 in the python_versions string
python_versions="2.4 2.3 2.2 2.1 2.0 1.5 22 21 20 15"
# remove or comment the below & substitute for the other
# PYTHON_SITE=`$python_bin -c "import site; print site.sitedirs[0]"`
PYTHON_SITE=`$python_bin -c "import os,sys; print os.path.join(sys.prefix,

The only other package missing was SilverCity, which is used for 'pretty printing' of source code in several languages. I did the same: downloaded from the source and installed it. It went smoothly. From this point, Trac was running. But running it under CGI is slow. As I am now running it for private use, I decided to try the standalone tracd daemon. It's much faster. There were a few issues with authentication that I was able to solve (using Apache style htdigest files), and now, it seems to be running pretty reliably.


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