Bootstrap and install a buildout based project without Internet connection


31/07/2011 by Gilles Lenfant


Complex Python based solutions are now built with the great zc.buildout, like complicated ZEO clusters with heavily customized Plone site or others.

zc.buildout is a great solution that’s now essential to share among developers a custom project as well as for distributing to users or customers. As everybody know, zc.buildout grabs components from the Internet (mostly from the Pypi site) and makes the application assembling those components according to the integration directives in the various *.cfg files. But talking about zc.buildout in details in not the purpose of this blog post of course.

Installing the solution in the customer’s computers is supposed to be easy and straightforward. “Unfortunately”, running zc.buildout requires to bootstrap the project with the famous “” file.

This script downloads and installs some essential resources that enable to run the “bin/buildout” command, like distribute and zc.buildout itself. But with some customers, there is no possible Internet connection on the installation target, due to a paranoïd strict security policy. And I don’t want to write a complicated installation manual that works around this issue. In addition, these customer have little or no IT required skills.

After asking to some experts in the Plone mailing lists, some answers provided some pointers from which I made my “” script that must be used in place of the classical “” script in such situations.

The solution

Prepare your buildout structure

In particular, you must ensure that your “buildout.cfg” file has these options:

# All packages are downloaded locally.
download-cache = downloads
# All eggs are installed here
eggs-directory = eggs
# You need this if there is an "extends = http://..."
extends-cache = ext-cache
versions = versions
# Freeze your zc.buildout preferred version!
zc.buildout = x.y.z

Add to the buildout directory the “” script you can grab here.

From the same place add a “bootstrap_resources/” directory. In this directory, add:

  • distribute-x.y.z.tar.gz“. Important: Use the same version as the one indicated by the DEFAULT_VERSION in above mentioned ““. Find it from here.
  • zc.buildout-x.y.z.tar.gz“. Important: Use exactly the same version as the one pinned in your “buildout.cfg” as above described. Find it from here

From now you can bootstrap your zc.buildout and carry on  developing/testing/documenting your Python project as usual.

Installing in an no-Internet platform

Your beautiful project is ready to be installed in a customer computer that has no connection to the Internet. First add a new file in your buildout: “production_install.cfg” with these few lines:

extends = production.cfg
install-from-cache = true
offline = true
newest = false

Of course, I assume you made a “production.cfg” buildout profile that smiles on your integration platform.

You may now remove the database (typically the “var/” folder) from the buildout directory and make a tarball.

Inflate this tarball in the place your customer wants it on his computer. From the newly created folder, you just need to say this to the console :

$ python -c production_install.cfg
$ bin/buildout -c production_install.cfg

That should be all unless other application specific operations.

Other things about “”” accepts any option and argument the usual “” takes. Except “–setup-source” and “–download-base” that are set specifically by ““.

Questions or comments ?

… are welcome.


One thought on “Bootstrap and install a buildout based project without Internet connection

  1. Gilles Lenfant says:

    Ooops. The file at has gone. Sorry for the 404 page. This script is now available at

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