Recording installed projects#
This document specifies a common format of recording information about Python projects installed in an environment. A common metadata format allows tools to query, manage or uninstall projects, regardless of how they were installed.
Almost all information is optional. This allows tools outside the Python ecosystem, such as Linux package managers, to integrate with Python tooling as much as possible. For example, even if an installer cannot easily provide a list of installed files in a format specific to Python tooling, it should still record the name and version of the installed project.
The .dist-info directory#
Each project installed from a distribution must, in addition to files,
install a “
.dist-info” directory located alongside importable modules and
packages (commonly, the
This directory is named as
version fields corresponding to Core metadata specifications. Both fields must be
normalized (see the name normalization specification
and the version normalization specification),
and replace dash (
-) characters with underscore (
.dist-info directory always has exactly one dash (
-) character in
its stem, separating the
Historically, tools have failed to replace dot characters or normalize case in
name field, or not perform normalization in the
.dist-info directories should expect those fields to be
unnormalized, and treat them as equivalent to their normalized counterparts.
New tools that write
.dist-info directories MUST normalize both
version fields using the rules described above, and existing tools are
encouraged to start normalizing those fields.
.dist-info directory’s name is formatted to unambiguously represent
a distribution as a filesystem path. Tools presenting a distribution name
to a user should avoid using the normalized name, and instead present the
specified name (when needed prior to resolution to an installed package),
or read the respective fields in Core Metadata, since values listed there
are unescaped and accurately reflect the distribution. Libraries should
provide API for such tools to consume, so tools can have access to the
unnormalized name when displaying distribution information.
.dist-info directory may contain the following files, described in
METADATA: contains project metadata
RECORD: records the list of installed files.
INSTALLER: records the name of the tool used to install the project.
entry_points.txt: see Entry points specification for details
direct_url.json: see Recording the Direct URL Origin of installed distributions for details
METADATA file is mandatory.
All other files may be omitted at the installing tool’s discretion.
Additional installer-specific files may be present.
The Binary distribution format specification describes additional
files that may appear in the
.dist-info directory of a Wheel.
Such files may be copied to the
.dist-info directory of an
The previous versions of this specification also specified a
file. This file is now considered a tool-specific extension, but may be
standardized again in the future. See PEP 376
for its original meaning.
The METADATA file#
METADATA file contains metadata as described in the Core metadata specifications
specification, version 1.1 or greater.
METADATA file is mandatory.
If it cannot be created, or if required core metadata is not available,
installers must report an error and fail to install the project.
The RECORD file#
RECORD file holds the list of installed files.
It is a CSV file containing one record (line) per installed file.
The CSV dialect must be readable with the default
reader of Python’s
"(straight double quote),
line terminator: either
Each record is composed of three elements: the file’s path, the hash of the contents, and its size.
The path may be either absolute, or relative to the directory containing
.dist-info directory (commonly, the
On Windows, directories may be separated either by forward- or backslashes
The hash is either an empty string or the name of a hash algorithm from
hashlib.algorithms_guaranteed, followed by the equals character
the digest of the file’s contents, encoded with the urlsafe-base64-nopad
base64.urlsafe_b64encode(digest) with trailing
The size is either the empty string, or file’s size in bytes, as a base 10 integer.
For any file, either or both of the hash and size fields may be left empty.
Commonly, entries for
.pyc files and the
RECORD file itself have empty
hash and size.
For other files, leaving the information out is discouraged, as it
prevents verifying the integrity of the installed project.
RECORD file is present, it must list all installed files of the
.pyc files corresponding to
.py files listed in
RECORD, which are optional.
Notably, the contents of the
.dist-info directory (including the
file itself) must be listed.
Directories should not be listed.
To completely uninstall a package, a tool needs to remove all
files listed in
.pyc files (of all optimization levels)
corresponding to removed
.py files, and any directories emptied by
Here is an example snippet of a possible
RECORD file is missing, tools that rely on
.dist-info must not
attempt to uninstall or upgrade the package.
(This restriction does not apply to tools that rely on other sources of information,
such as system package managers in Linux distros.)
It is strongly discouraged for an installed package to modify itself
(e.g., store cache files under its namespace in
site-packages should be left to specialized installer
tools such as pip. If a package is nevertheless modified in this way,
RECORD must be updated, otherwise uninstalling the package
will leave unlisted files in place (possibly resulting in a zombie
The INSTALLER file#
INSTALLER is a single-line text file naming the tool used to
install the project.
If the installer is executable from the command line,
should contain the command name.
Otherwise, it should contain a printable ASCII string.
The file can be terminated by zero or more ASCII whitespace characters.
Here are examples of two possible
MegaCorp Cloud Install-O-Matic
This value should be used for informational purposes only.
For example, if a tool is asked to uninstall a project but finds no
file, it may suggest that the tool named in
INSTALLER may be able to do the
The entry_points.txt file#
This file MAY be created by installers to indicate when packages contain components intended for discovery and use by other code, including console scripts and other applications that the installer has made available for execution.
Its detailed specification is at Entry points specification.
The direct_url.json file#
This file MUST be created by installers when installing a distribution from a requirement specifying a direct URL reference (including a VCS URL).
This file MUST NOT be created when installing a distribution from an other type of requirement (i.e. name plus version specifier).
Its detailed specification is at Recording the Direct URL Origin of installed distributions.
Intentionally preventing changes to installed packages#
In some cases (such as when needing to manage external dependencies in addition to Python ecosystem dependencies), it is desirable for a tool that installs packages into a Python environment to ensure that other tools are not used to uninstall or otherwise modify that installed package, as doing so may cause compatibility problems with the wider environment.
To achieve this, affected tools should take the following steps:
Rename or remove the
RECORDfile to prevent changes via other tools (e.g. appending a suffix to create a non-standard
RECORD.toolfile if the tool itself needs the information, or omitting the file entirely if the package contents are tracked and managed via other means)
INSTALLERfile indicating the name of the tool that should be used to manage the package (this allows
RECORD-aware tools to provide better error notices when asked to modify affected packages)
Python runtime providers may also prevent inadvertent modification of platform provided packages by modifying the default Python package installation scheme to use a location other than that used by platform provided packages (while also ensuring both locations appear on the default Python import path).
In some circumstances, it may be desirable to block even installation of additional packages via Python-specific tools. For these cases refer to Externally Managed Environments
June 2009: The original version of this specification was approved through PEP 376. At the time, it was known as the Database of Installed Python Distributions.
March 2020: The specification of the
direct_url.jsonfile was approved through PEP 610. It is only mentioned on this page; see Recording the Direct URL Origin of installed distributions for the full definition.
September 2020: Various amendments and clarifications were approved through PEP 627.