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Guido van Rossum Leaves 248

VladDrac writes "Guido van Rossum, the author of the Python programming language, announced at OSCON last night that he's leaving, to work for a new startup called 'Elemental Security', founded by Dan Farmer (known from several security tools such as Satan). Guido leaving will also probably mean that he will be no longer involved in Zope3 development, but hopefully he'll have more time to spend on Python development." Guido says that he's excited about his new employer, but that nothing substantial will change about Python as a result of the move. "It's just that I'll be working from the West coast." Python is "already quite secure," he says, and will be the basis of an upcoming security product ("just getting started") from Elemental.
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Guido van Rossum Leaves

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  • His goodbye posting (Score:5, Informative)

    by VladDrac ( 15111 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @11:59AM (#6400749) Homepage
    You can read his goodbye posting to the zope3 list here []
  • Good times. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Meat Blaster ( 578650 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:01PM (#6400769)
    No doubt he'll have much more time to dedicate to his programming. Python sounds pretty interesting, and I dug through the BitTorrent source a bit to learn more about it, but it also seems pretty complex for what the end result is (as opposed to, say, Perl.) With a bit of work towards a more logical parse tree/DTD, I could see Python easily surpassing Perl as a strongly-typed effective scripting language.

    What other projects are being done in Python?

    • I read somewhere that parts of google's database search software are written in python... but it was a long time ago so I could be wrong.
      • by gavri ( 663286 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:09PM (#6400832)
        "Python has been an important part of Google since the beginning, and remains so as the system grows and evolves. Today dozens of Google engineers use Python, and we're looking for more people with skills in this language." said Peter Norvig, director of search quality at Google, Inc
        • Er.... I know python pretty well. Perhaps I should send my resume? :D
          • I've tried and I even have friends already working there to use as references. My impression has been that for any kind of fun job there you need a PhD or at least a Masters. Oh well.. we can always dream.

            A more interesting project would be to make a search engine that functions as well as Google on a much more modest budget. That's an ongoing game of mine. I figure if I ever succeed maybe they'll hire me finally. ;)
      • Re:Good times. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Maimun ( 631984 )
        This is a question, I have little experience with Python and until I finish my thesis that will not change.

        I read somewhere in usenet that python is relatively slow, even for interpreted language, and my (extremely limited) experience is the same. A while ago, I did a simple text converter in python as an exercise. Very basic stuff, read from file, check the value of each symbol, change with another value if necessary, write into another file. It was quite slow on texts of moderate size. I mean, if it we

        • Sure, Python compared to C is slow, if you use calls written in Python rather than C (many Python modules are written in C with Python bindings). But compared to, say, Perl or Ruby? I'd say they're about on par.

          Where Python is superior to C is the fact that Python is a higher level language. Easier to code it, easier to get things done, etc.
        • Two things that might have caused you problems:
          • How were you reading the file? One big chunk, one character at a time, or with an intermediate buffer? An intermediate-sized buffer with data being copied to a new buffer for output will be the most efficient.
          • Were you trying to make in-place changes to the string? Strings in Python can't change, so with larger inputs you might've been moving a lot more data around behind the scenes.
    • Re:Good times. (Score:4, Informative)

      by dagarath ( 33684 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:12PM (#6400852)
      The obvious reference to Python Web Site [] will give more information. Python often competes in the same space as perl. But, Python is probably more object oriented than perl. The difference being that python is OO from the ground up as opposed to perl where it was added late. Most of Redhat's installation tools and scripts are written in python. A 3d game a few years ago 'Blade of Darkness' was done with mostly python.
    • I could see Python easily surpassing Perl as a strongly-typed effective scripting language.

      Which unfortunately has nothing to do with the ideas behind Python.
      It tends to be much more than "strongly-typed effective scripting language" and if there was some big corporation promoting it as development platform(not even providing support, the guys from the team are doing really good job) , you can bet that Java would had one more serious competitor to worry about...

    • Re:Good times. (Score:5, Informative)

      by rRaminrodt ( 250095 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:21PM (#6400909) Homepage Journal
      Off the top of my head:
      Twisted - a web/chat/anything-you-can-name server
      Zope - Web Application/CMS type system
      bittorrent - you know about that one
      Red Hat uses Python in a lot of their scripts (I believe)
      NumPy - used for scientific applications (replacing/augmenting Matlab, fortran, etc)
      Karamba - KDE desktop eyecandy, written in C++ and scripted with python
      and some really bad stuff I've written for my own amusement. :-)

      Off course there's more, but I did say off the top of my head and I don't want to cheat. It's really a nice clean language, that really lends itself to prototyping but still can make great apps.

    • Re:Good times. (Score:5, Informative)

      by William Tanksley ( 1752 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:35PM (#6400989)
      Python is actually simpler than Perl -- it's designed to be so. HOWEVER, Perl is also designed to do many specific things very simply, so when you need to do one of those specific things it's the fastest way to get it done -- assuming, of course, that you already knew Perl could do it :-).

      I'm a Python fan, but I doubt Python will ever surpass Perl -- especially not by adding a "more logical parse tree", since it already has a very simple, consistent, and logical parse tree whereas Perl has more of a parse forest. Python and Perl are just too different; they compete in many areas, but their real strengths are far enough apart to keep them both viable in each other's presence.

      For info on what projects are being done in Python, see the lists at (Success Stories [], Python Users [], and Python Projects [])).

      Remarkable language, Python. Lovely plumage!

      • Quote: I'm a Python fan, but I doubt Python will ever surpass Perl -- especially not by adding a "more logical parse tree", since it already has a very simple, consistent, and logical parse tree whereas Perl has more of a parse forest.

        Oh, WOW! What a quote ;)
    • Re:Good times. (Score:4, Informative)

      by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:41PM (#6401445) Homepage Journal
      What other projects are being done in Python?

      Other guys are mentioning many projects, but I want to emphsize on three project, IMHO the most important to illustrate the power of Python:

      • Zope [] - IMHO the best ever written application server, thanks to laziness and OOP of Python;
      • Plone [] - this portal is the best software written for Zope's CMF; Zope would stay popular only among hackers if there would be no Plone;
      • Portage [] - the best ever written package management system; I doubt ebuilds and eclasses would be that flexible and power without Python;
    • EVE Online [] uses a modified version of Python called Stackless Python.
  • by pen ( 7191 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:03PM (#6400788) /007598.html []

    Guido van Rossum
    Wed, 09 Jul 2003 10:24:54 -0400

    Dear Zope 3 developers,

    Last night at OSCON I announced that I am moving to California. I
    have accepted a new job at Elemental Security, a security software
    startup in San Mateo. You may have heard of one of the founders, Dan
    Farmer, who is the (co-)author of several well-known free security
    checking programs: Satan, Titan and The Coroner's Toolkit.

    Elemental is a brand new company, and I can't say much yet about the
    product, except that it will be aimed at enterprise security and use
    Python. I'm very excited about working with Dan on its design and

    I'm also excited about moving to California, which has long been a
    dream of mine. I'm looking forward to getting together with the many
    local Python users and developers once I'm settled; right now, my life
    and that if my family is total chaos because we're trying to find a
    home and move into it by August 1st.

    I will still have time for Python (it's in my contract) and I will
    continue to lead Python's development. The other PythonLabs folks:
    Fred Drake, Jeremy Hylton, Barry Warsaw and Tim Peters, are staying at
    Zope, by the way.

    But unfortunately, this move pretty much ends my involvement in Zope
    3. I've signed a contributors agreement, but with the new job and my
    Python work I don't expect to have much time for Zope. So this is
    also a goodbye, of sorts. I've enjoyed working with many of you, Zope
    3 developers, and I expect we'll run into each other at some future
    Python event.

    In the mean time, I'm here at OSCON with a busy schedule and limited
    access to my email, and the following weeks I will be in transition,
    so please be kind if I don't reply immediate when you write me.

    --Guido van Rossum (home page:

    PS. no longer works. Please use!
    • Oh, good, almost thought that Guido "The Killer Pimp" was leaving the business...whew!
  • That sound you are hearing is a thousand hackers and script kiddies going "Oh yeah?" in unison.
  • Stay! (Score:3, Funny)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:06PM (#6400810) Homepage
    ..known from several security tools such as Satan ..."I'll be working from the West coast".

    Please, stay where you are, sir. We have enough problems out here already.

  • by Laur ( 673497 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:06PM (#6400814)
    We have the Yopy 3700 [] and now someone's leaving Has Disney been put in charge of naming things lately? Try the new Dopey 2003(C)!
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:23PM (#6400924) Homepage Journal
    With python there is no question his importance, 'with out Guido there is no python'.. ( thankfully that wont change, that would be a tremendous loss to the community )

    What his is level of involvement with zope? Does this spell a slow painful death or just a minor speed bump.. ( I admit I don't follow *new* zope development so I'm just curious )
  • Great! I've been hoarding oxygen and have become increasingly concerned that my neighbors may try to liberate it. Damn free radicals.
  • by Chromodromic ( 668389 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:57PM (#6401114)
    ... is yet another guy named "Guido" wanting everyone to admire his "Python".

    SoCal is the land of double entendre and uber-image, Mr. Van Rossum. We don't care about your substance, we want to know about your style. So the question the really needs to be answered now is,

    Python: Is It Sexy Enough? Join us on E! when we ask your favorite celebs just what scripting language they use for their daily information processing! We know Pamela Anderson loves Perl, and Carmen Daily is crazy about Java, but what happens when these two sexy stars get their hands on Python? Watch at 11 and find out!
  • by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:03PM (#6401169) Journal
    known from several security tools such as Satan

    I tried satan for my network security. Cost me my soul, but it's damn good. One kid tried to hack around our proxy to play games at work, and he got engulfed in flame and dragged down to the 3rd layer of hell for the rest of the day! Sure, I have to use a massive water cooling system to keep the firewall (and I mean a wall of fire that I run the ethernet cable through) from melting the other servers, but when the dark lord is watching your back, you don't even have to think twice about security.

  • by Whip-hero ( 308110 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:11PM (#6401233) Homepage
    Python is "already quite secure," he says, and will be the basis of an upcoming security product ("just getting started") from Elemental.

    I'd like to point out a thread that I found a little while back on Python-Dev about Guido's decision to remove the rexec module (similar to the Java sandbox):

    posting 1 []

    and Guido's reply:

    posting 2 []

    A little bit further down that thread we find this:

    posting 3 []

    Since this last one is particularly telling, I will quote the relevant text for our impatient readers:

    I think Guido's rationale for removing all these features will be widely misunderstood. Me channeling him: it is not that he believes that the architectures developed were inherently incapable of providing security. Instead, he feels that no "expert" for these matters has reviewed these architecture for flaws, and that the continuing maintenance of these things isn't going to happen.

    If this understanding is correct, then any new approaches will likely suffer from the same fate. Unless somebody steps forward and says: "I am a security expert, and I guarantee that this and that feature is secure (in some documented sense)", then I think he will dislike any changes that mean to provide security.

    So this not a matter of engineering but of authority. Somebody must take the blame, and Guido doesn't want to be that someone.

    Disclaimer: I love python. However, I am working on a project that depends on rexec, and when I discovered that it was being removed, I was a little annoyed - especially at the reasoning behind the decision.

    • Me too - the problem is that there is no longer any mechanism for running untrusted code. I would be satisfied with a bare-bones approach - the ability to compile the Python interpreter with no access to the system (no calling sys, no access to filesystem) so that everythin would be done through extension modules. This would be not nearly as complicated as Rexec, and should be doable with a reasonable degree of security.
    • I believe the word "secure" meant "well established, healthy".

      But hey, you got an opportunity to strut, and show some linkage!

    • he meant secure as in the development of python will continue

      nice rant though!
  • Least ugly? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dr. Smeegee ( 41653 ) * on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:11PM (#6401234) Homepage Journal
    Looking at Guido's Home Page [] I noticed that his picture shows a clean, healthy looking guy with all his hair.
    I hereby cast my vote for Guido VanRossum for Least Ugly Open-Source Project Leader.
  • A shame (Score:5, Informative)

    by GeorgeH ( 5469 ) * on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @01:12PM (#6401249) Homepage Journal
    Zope is a very cool web application system, and while I don't know of Guido's specific contributions I have to assume that they were great. Still, I'm confidant that Zope will carry on.

    For those not familiar with Zope, it is a web application server written entirely in Python. It features an object database that, for example, lets you create an image object, and then call it from other code to automatically build your image tag based on the dimensions and title of the image stored in the object.

    It's open source, developed both by the Zope community [] and the Zope corporation []. There are at least two kick ass, open source content management systems built on top of Zope Corp's content management framework [] that I know of: Plone [] and Silva []. There are a ton of add-on products [] that are downloadable too.

    Zope does have a pretty steep learning curve, if you don't do stuff with "real" web applications (stuff that needs access control lists, user management, templating, etc) it might not be right for you, but it's great for bigger applications. Edd Dumbill talks in a recent blog entry about why Zope is worth learning [] and DevShed (which runs on Zope) has a good overview [].

    Guido and Dan Farmer are both smart guys and I'm sure that we can expect good things.
    • by jesterzog ( 189797 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @05:23PM (#6403252) Homepage Journal

      I was experimenting with Zope last year and again during the first half of this year. It's definitely a cool product, but what threw me for now at least was that the documentation is abysmal, at least online.

      From what I've been able to tell, there are several editions of the Zope book -- the only up-to-date version [] of which (currently 2.6) is still work in progress. The rest of the documentation [] is a mish-mash of user-written howto's, some of which are excellent, some of which are dupes of others, many of which are out of date, and others of which are just badly written. Searching the database of these is hard, and it's very difficult to distinguish well written old ones that are still relevant from newer ones that aren't very useful.

      My main problem with it though is that although it focuses hugely on the differences between zope development and regular web development without seriously dealing with implementation examples of common tasks. On and off it took me about a month to figure out how to make a simple form-based login system (similar to slashdot's) and tie it into Zope's user folder system. Co-incidentally The only zope-based website I could find that actually did this was itself.

      I really like Zope and I've shown off how it works to people many times over. But I'll only seriously consider using it more once the documentation is more coherent. At the moment I think that's one of the main places where itfalls over.

      • I read the Zope Bible [] which I recommend. I haven't looked at the other Zope books, so I don't know how good it is in relation to the others, but it walked me through the basics and I figured the rest out on my own. A lot of time I needed to look at the source code to see how things were working, which speaks poorly for the documentation, but I got the job done.

        Also, the way's login is overridden is default in CMF with the Cookie Crumbler product. I don't know if this is available outside of CMF
        • We use Zope a lot where I work, so we have ALL the books. The Zope Bible (mentioned by GeorgeH above) is my favorite. However, most printed books make heavy use of the semi-deprecated DTML tags, rather than the more "strategic" ZPT tags, an approach which made sense back when they were written, but not now.

          And there is still no introductory documentation on Zope CMF: not even on a web page, anywhere, no, not even on the Zope CMF site []. They do have some nice outlines of what needs to be written [], along wi
      • I've developed a production web site in Python and Zope (http://www.Connected.TV []), and I like Zope a lot, and absolutely love Python. But Zope is much more complicated than it needs to be, and not well documented at all. The Zope developers are certainly aware of those problems, and working to correct them. I don't agree with all the directions they're taking (like the messy dtml and crippled xml page templates that want to be a programming language but aren't quite -- didn't they already make that mistake
    • By the way, what's so good about Silva? What can it give me that CMF cannot?
  • emmental [] is a swiss cheese known for it's big holes.
  • As an active Pythonic, and a most interested observer over the last two and a half years, it seesm to me that Guido leaving Zope should not raise any fears whatsoever about the future of Zope. I will explain below. Secondly, Guido's joining the new company is a positive for Python, which I will also explain. When Guido joined Zope a while back, I was very happy because it was good for Python, as it gave Guido a safe and comfortable corporate home and presumably a good living, while still allowing him to de
  • Any bets on when the startup will go belly up and he's back doing full time Zope and Python work?

The absent ones are always at fault.