Python, cygwin, TurboGears, mysql hell

Ok – here goes – I’ve always liked python, though definitely a noob. I was interested in python on the web and after a bit of googling, seems like TurboGears is the way to go.

First things first – decided to use mysql as the database (already have it on my machine and didn’t want to install one more database (postgresql/sqlite). Now it turns out that MySQL doesnt have a cygwin package. More googling – mysql server can’t run on cygwin due to something to do with pthreads. You can compile the mysql client on cygwin though.

That’s what I decided to do – grabbed the Linux tar.gz source from, got it into a directory and ran ./configure –without-server, followed by make && make install. All went through fine -other than the fact that it was time consuming and pretty boring (more so since I had to download and install gcc, bintools first in cygwin)

I thought I’d got through the hard part and what remained was to install python-MySQLdb package. Off I went to

easy_install MySQLdb

No luck there – package build failed with missing library -lmysqlclient_r. Turns out that the ‘thread-safe’ version of mysql client (mysqlclient_r) is preferred but the mysql build doesnt build this by default. What a shame!!!

Anyway, so I wasnt going to redo the whole mysql client library build again – more README files and googling later, grabbed mysql-python-1.2.2 tarball, got it into a folder, edited site.cfg and changed ‘threadsafe=false’. The next run on python build worked properly, with the python mysql linking against the non threadsafe mysqlclient library.

Think troubles are over yet? No way.

Off I went to test – started the python interpreter and did a import MySQLdb, and got a Permission Denied in some ‘egg’ file!!! What the heck are these egg files anyway. Well, I did’nt have much of a clue and more google later got educated that these are install packages used by the easy install system. The more I looked, the more it seems that the easy install is anything but easy :(. Anyway, this one had me floored – since I couldnt get to the line of source where the error was and had no clue how to view the contents of an ‘egg’ (they’re zips – but I didnt know that and very helpfully there’s hardly anyplace where they say that they’re zips with the extension of egg!!! Baaah!! – why couldn’t they just use .zip?)

More and more hard googling – and this time the info’s really sketchy till eventually found a post from a guy who asked the exact same question. Guess what, the easy_install system unzips the eggs to some folder (pointed by PYTHON_EGG_CACHE env var) and there I needed to do a chmod a+x on the _mysql.dll. Well so I did echo $PYTHON_EGG_CACHE and the var isnt set!!! Admittedly at this point, I’m not looking sharp either – what started out as a quick spin has become a quagmire of installation issues – but I’ll be damned if I let it sink me!!! Eventually, had the Eureka moment and checked ~/.python-eggs and sure enough found the truant _mysql.dll. Quick chmod a+x and presto – import MySQLdb worked!!! YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

And now back to where I started – went back to turbogears, did a tg-admin quickstart, setup a mysql database and started with python Guess what – no luck yet – turns out that mysql cant client to my windows server with a socket.

More googling – and this time its really desperate – and more enlightenment – the windows mysqld doesnt do unix sockets – how do I force tcp/ip? Simple – use as hostname in the connection settings instead of localhost!! Finally something that was easy to fix. Finally after 8 hours of on and off hacking away at installation issues I’m glad to see a turbogears web page.

Bottomline: Python’s great, from the looks of it, turbo gears seems well designed. Mysql is a great database – a cygwin native server would be great – or atleast a client package. But if one has to run through all these hoops just go get a ‘quick spin’ then adoption’s going to be difficult.

I havent tried RoR – but has someone tried a similar thing on cygwin (cygwin, ruby, RoR, mysql)? How does the experience compare – is it any easier to get off the ground?


9 thoughts on “Python, cygwin, TurboGears, mysql hell

  1. Gee, seems like you tried the hardest way to do it. Why didn’t you just download the python-mysql Windows binary, use the Python Windows Installer instead of the python from cygwin, and downloaded something that comes with a working MySQL like XAMPP?

  2. Sidnei: Yeah – that’s what it seems like in hindsight :). However, I prefer using the cygwin builds of tools/interpreters if available – they play well with the rest of the cygwin toolchain, with cygwin emacs, you dont have to hunt around for a decent editor etc etc.

    To be fair, most of the problems were caused by the fact that there’s no Mysql builds for cygwin.

  3. I’m only angry because I’ve had to maintain monstrosities like that before and it’s not fun. the only reason you should be using cygwin is for SSH with x11 forwarding into the real linux box.

  4. Raghu,

    Good job getting it to work. Publish a How-to and send the links to relevant sites so others may be spared the pain 🙂

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