Python 2's status in various Linux distributions (October 2021 edition)

October 22, 2021

One of the slow things happening with Python 2 in its afterlife is that various Linux distributions are sort of maybe trying to remove the Python 2 interpreter itself (which we could call 'CPython 2'). Their official position is generally that they'll remove it sometime, but the practical result is that no one seems to be making much gestures in that direction.

Debian's Python page says that "[Python 2] is being removed as of Debian 11 (Bullseye)". This information is visibly out of date. Debian 11 was released in the middle of August and not only does it still have a Python 2 package, so do the current testing and unstable distributions (you can see the state of the 'python2' package here). Possibly the Debian page means something different, such as all packages depending on Python 2 will be gone in Debian 11, but if so it's oddly written.

Similarly, Ubuntu 21.10 was just released last week and unsurprisingly, it also has a Python 2 package (since Ubuntu draws packages from Debian, Debian packages are normally also in Ubuntu as well). The continued presence of Python 2 in Debian makes it pretty likely that Python 2 will also be in Ubuntu 22.04 LTS when it comes out next April. Since Python 2 is already in the 'universe' repository with no promises of support, the lack of official support for Python 2 is probably not going to make a difference in this.

(It turns out that Python 2 has been in Ubuntu's 'universe' repository for some time, even back to Ubuntu 18.04. Some version of Python 3 is generally in their officially more supported 'main' repository.)

Fedora 34 is the current version of Fedora, and it has Python 2. Fedora 35 is not yet out but it's very close and it still has Python 2 in its package sets. On a casual Internet search, I can't spot a Fedora web page about its future plans here but I wouldn't be surprised if Fedora's current Python 2 package lingers on for years to come.

All of Debian, Ubuntu, and Fedora have opted to package PyPy's version of Python 2 as 'pypy' and their version of Python 3 as 'pypy3'. At one point PyPy considered the Python 2 implementation their primary version, although I'm not sure they do any more (their features page doesn't say anything about primary versions, for example). PyPy will probably always support Python 2, but they probably won't consider it the primary version forever. Linux distributions may change the naming before then, of course, depending on user expectations.

Written on 22 October 2021.
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Last modified: Fri Oct 22 22:40:32 2021
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