It is very easy to create installable RPM packages with distutils. RPM is one of the two or three standard package formats in the Unix world (the others are compressed or gzipped tar archives and Debian packages) and most Linux distributions support it.
RPM has strong support for dependency checking. This means you can create a package that cannot be installed unless certain other packages have been installed first. You can even demand that those packages are of a certain version number.
Creating an RPM takes just one command:
boudewijn@maldar:~/doc/pyqt/ch18/kalam > python setup.py bdist_rpm
To ensure a really nice RPM, a few options should be set. The best place to set these is in the setup.cfg file:
[bdist_rpm] release = 1 packager = Boudewijn Rempt <firstname.lastname@example.org> doc_files = README COPYING provides = kalam requires = python pyqt distribution_name = SuSE 7.2
Most of the options merely provide some extra meta-data, but the provides and requires options are needed by RPM to do its dependency checking. In this case, Kalam requires both Python and PyQt to be present, which is hardly a surprise! You can make these requirements more specific by also asking for a version number:
requires = python-2.2 pyqt-2.5
RPM is a complicated package format in itself, and you can customize the installation process considerably by using .spec file. The book Maximum RPM (freely available at http://www.rpmdp.org/rpmbook/) gives detailed information on writing these files. At the moment distutils writes the file for you, based on the options in setup.py and setup.cfg. A future release of distutils will support using your own .spec files.