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Python Gets Small

02/28/2001

Good news for Pythoneers: Python is getting small. Endeavors Technology is continuing their effort to port Python to the Palm OS. They have released a functional port of Python 1.5.2 that you can use now if you have Palm OS 3.5. (They are working on resolving a graphic issue with earlier versions of the Palm OS.) In a fit of alliteration, they have appended "py" to the end of an acronym for Python In Palm, dubbing the port Pippy.

The heart of Pippy is the virtual machine itself, a Palm program that can run Python intermediate byte code. To run Python applications on the virtual machine, you must first compile them in a wrapper application. You can then install them on the Palm. Previous versions of the Python port for Palm came only with a simple test suite application. The latest release, 0.6beta, comes with an interactive interface similar to the interface used by LispMe, a port of Scheme for the Palm. Pippy's interface is not as advanced as LispMe's. You can, however, enter and evaluate Python code at an interactive prompt. This is more clumsy than practical, but the instant gratification is nice. It makes exploring Pippy's features much easier.

Endeavor Technology is the peer-to-peer (P2P) development arm of Tadpole Technology. They are the developers of Magi, a P2P infrastructure based on the Apache server. They have already ported Magi to Windows CE handheld computers. Using Pippy they can make small memory versions of Magi available on even smaller devices. In the near future, the Pippy development team plans to update Pippy to Python 2.0 and switch to Stackless Python, which should resolve some recursion issues. They would also like to contribute changes to the core Python development that could make future ports to small or embedded devices easier to accomplish.

Stephen Figgins administrates Linux servers for Sunflower Broadband, a cable company.

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