Debian has removed Python 2 from its next version

January 2, 2023

The news of the time interval is that Debian's development version has removed even the 'minimal' version of Python 2.7 (via). Among other things, this includes the 'python2-minimal' and 'python2.7-minimal' packages, both of which are gone from Debian's 'testing' pseudo-distribution as well as 'unstable'. In future Debian releases, people who want Python 2 will have to build it themselves in some way (for example, copying the binary package from the current 'bullseye' release, or copying the source package and rebuilding). We've been expecting this to happen for some time, but the exact timing was uncertain until now.

Since Ubuntu generally follows Debian for things like this, I expect that the next Ubuntu LTS release (which would normally be Ubuntu 24.04 in April of 2024) won't include Python 2 either. As I write this, the in development Ubuntu 'lunar' still contains the python2-minimal package (this is 'Lunar Lobster', expected to be 23.04, cf). With four months to go before the expected release (and less time before a package freeze), I don't know if Canonical will follow Debian and remove the python2-minimal package. I wouldn't be surprised either way.

Both Canonical and Debian keep source packages around for quite a while, so people have plenty of time to grab the source .deb for python2-minimal. Pragmatically, we might as well wait to see if Canonical or Debian release additional patch updates, although that seems pretty unlikely at this point. We're very likely to keep a /usr/bin/python2 around for our users, although who knows.

Fedora currently has a python2.7 package, but I suspect that Debian's action has started the clock ticking on its remaining lifetime. However, I haven't yet spotted a Fedora Bugzilla tracking bug about this (there are a few open bugs against their Python 2.7 package). Since I still have old Python 2 programs on my Fedora desktops that I use and don't feel like rewriting, I will probably grab the Fedora source and binary RPMs at some point to avoid having to take more drastic actions.

(This means that my guess two years ago that Fedora would move before Debian turned out to be wrong.)

Comments on this page:

According to Red Hat's support policy, Python 2 will be supported in RHEL 8 through June 2024. Since the Python maintainers for Fedora are (largely? maybe entirely) Python maintainers for RHEL, I would expect the python2.7 package to survive until RHEL 8 drops it (or it becomes too difficult to maintain in Fedora Linux).

(This is my interpretation of publicly-available information. I don't have any direct statements from the maintainers and there are no related proposals for upcoming releases)

Why would anyone use Python 3, knowing this same nonsense is likely to happen again? It's obvious the Python people give not a damn about the time of others. My suggestion is to use a language that will work the same way in a few decades.

Written on 02 January 2023.
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Last modified: Mon Jan 2 21:40:22 2023
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