Managing Projects with pyoxidizer

The pyoxidizer command line tool is used to manage the integration of PyOxidizer within a Rust project. See Components for more on the various components of PyOxidizer.

High-Level Project Lifecycle and Pipeline

PyOxidizer projects conceptually progress through a development pipeline. This pipeline consists of the following phases:

  1. Creation
  2. Python Building
  3. Application Building
  4. Application Assembly
  5. Validation (manual)
  6. Distribution (not yet implemented)

In Creation, a new project is created.

In Python Building, the Python components of the project are derived. This includes fetching any Python package dependencies.

In Application Building, the larger [Rust] application is built. this usually entails producing an executable containing an embedded Python interpreter along with any embedded python resource data.

In Application Assembly, the built [Rust] application is assembled with other packaging pieces. These extra pieces could include Python modules not embedded in the [Rust] binary.

In Validation, the assembled application is validated, tested, etc.

In Distribution, distributable versions of the assembled application are produced. This includes installable packages, etc.

Typically, Python Building, Application Building, and Application Assembly are performed as a single logical step (often via pyoxidizer build). But PyOxidizer supports performing each action in isolation in order to facilitate more flexible development patterns.

Creating New Projects with init

The pyoxidizer init command will create a new [Rust] project which supports embedding Python. Invoke it with the directory you want to create your new project in:

$ pyoxidizer init pyapp

This should have printed out details on what happened and what to do next. If you actually ran this in a terminal, hopefully you don’t need to continue following the directions here as the printed instructions are sufficient!

Before we move on, let’s explore what new projects look like.

New Project Layout

pyoxidizer init essentially does two things:

  1. Creates a new Rust executable project by running cargo init.
  2. Adds PyOxidizer files to that project.

If we run pyoxidizer init pyapp, let’s explore our newly-created pyapp project:

$ find pyapp -type f | grep -v .git

The Main Project

The Cargo.toml file is the configuration file for the Rust project. Read more in the official Cargo documentation. The magic lines in this file to enable PyOxidizer are the following:

pyembed = { path = "pyembed" }

These lines declare a dependency on the pyembed package in the directory pyembed. Cargo.toml is overall pretty straightforward.

Next let’s look at pyapp/src/ If you aren’t familiar with Rust projects, the src/ file is the default location for the source file implementing an executable. If we open that file, we see a fn main() { line, which declares the main function for our executable. The file is relatively straightforward. We import some symbols from the pyembed crate. We then construct a config object, use that to construct a Python interpreter, then we run the interpreter and pass its exit code to exit().

The pyembed Package

The bulk of the files in our new project are in the pyembed directory. This directory defines a Rust project whose job it is to build and manage an embedded Python interpreter. This project behaves like any other Rust library project: there’s a Cargo.toml, a src/ defining the main library define, and a pile of other .rs files implementing the library functionality. The only functionality you will likely be concerned about are the PythonConfig and MainPythonInterpreter structs. These types define how the embedded Python interpreter is configured and executed. If you want to learn more about this crate and how it works, run cargo doc.

There are a few special properties about the pyembed package worth calling out.

First, the package is a copy of files from the PyOxidizer project. Typically, one could reference a crate published on a package repository like and we wouldn’t need to have local files. However, pyembed is currently relying on modifications to some other published crates (we plan to upstream all changes eventually). This means we can’t publish pyembed on So we need to vendor a copy next to your project. Sorry about the inconvenience!

Speaking of modification to the published crates, the pyembed’s Cargo.toml enumerates those crates. If pyoxidizer was run from an installed executable, these modified crates will be obtained from PyOxidizer’s canonical Git repository. If pyoxidizer was run out of the PyOxidizer source repository, these modified crates will be obtained from the local filesystem path to that repository. You may want to consider making copies of these crates and/or vendoring them next to your project if you aren’t comfortable fetching dependencies from the local filesystem or a Git repository.

Another property about pyembed worth mentioning is its build script. This program runs as part of building the library. As you can see from the source, this program attempts to locate a pyoxidizer executable and then calls pyoxidizer run-build-script. pyoxidizer thus provides the bulk of the build script functionality. This is slightly unorthodox. But it enables you to build applications without building all of PyOxidizer. And since PyOxidizer has a few hundred package dependencies, this saves quite a bit of time!

The pyoxidizer.toml Configuration File

The final file in our newly created project is pyoxidizer.toml. It is the most important file in the project.

The pyoxidizer.toml file configures how the embedded Python interpreter is built. This includes choosing which modules to package. It also configures the default run-time settings for the interpreter, including which code to run.

See Configuration Files for comprehensive documentation of pyoxidizer.toml files and their semantics.

Adding PyOxidizer to an Existing Project with add

Do you have an existing Rust project that you want to add an embedded Python interpreter to? PyOxidizer can help with that too! The pyoxidizer add command can be used to add an embedded Python interpreter to an existing Rust project. Simply give the directory to a project containing a Cargo.toml file:

$ cargo init myrustapp
  Created binary (application) package
$ pyoxidizer add myrustapp

This will add required files and make required modifications to add an embedded Python interpreter to the target project. Most of the modifications are in the form of a new pyembed crate.


It is highly recommended to have the destination project under version control so you can see what changes are made by pyoxidizer add and so you can undo any unwanted changes.


This command isn’t very well tested. And results have been known to be wrong. If it doesn’t just work, you may want to run pyoxidizer init and incorporate relevant files into your project manually. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Building PyObject Projects with build

The pyoxidizer build command is probably the most important and used pyoxidizer command. This command does the following:

  1. Processes the pyoxidizer.toml configuration file and derives Python artifacts to incorporate in a larger binary. (The Python Building phase of the pipeline described at the top of this document.)
  2. Invokes cargo build to build the associated Rust project. (The Application Building phase.)
  3. Performs any post-build actions to assemble extra resources alongside the cargo-built binary. (The Application Assembly phase.)

In short, pyoxidizer build attempts to build your application as you have configured it.

Application Assembly is performed into a build/apps/<app> directory under the project root. If your project name is myapp, the application will be assembled to a build/apps/myapp directory. The full path to the executable will be build/apps/myapp/myapp (on Linux and macOS) or build/apps/myapp/myapp.exe (on Windows).

It’s worth noting that the ergonomics of pyoxidizer build are superior to cargo build. With pyoxidizer build, the tool prints information about Python-specific activity as it is occurring. While it is possible to build applications with cargo build to achieve the same effect, doing so will defer Python build steps until later in the build and will hide that activity from output. This behavior isn’t optimal for people whose primary goal is to package Python applications.

Running Applications with run

Once you have produced an application with pyoxidizer build, you can run it with pyoxidizer run. For example:

$ pyoxidizer run -- foo bar'

This command will build your application (if needed) then invoke it with the arguments specified.

This command is provided for convenience, as it is certainly possible to run executables directly from their build location.

Analyzing Produced Binaries with analyze

The pyoxidizer analyze command is a generic command for analyzing the contents of executables and libraries. While it is generic, its output is specifically tailored for PyOxidizer.

Run the command with the path to an executable. For example:

$ pyoxidizer analyze build/apps/myapp/myapp

Behavior is dependent on the format of the file being analyzed. But the general theme is that the command attempts to identify the run-time requirements for that binary. For example, for ELF binaries it will list all shared library dependencies and analyze glibc symbol versions and print out which Linux distributions it thinks the binary is compatible with.


pyoxidizer analyze is not yet implemented for all executable file types that PyOxidizer supports.

Inspecting Python Distributions

The Python Building phase of the lifecycle entails downloading special pre-built Python distributions and then linking them into a larger binary. You can find the location of these distributions in your project’s pyoxidizer.toml configuration file.

These Python distributions are zstandard compressed tar files. Zstandard is a modern compression format that is really, really, really good. (PyOxidizer’s maintainer also maintains Python bindings to zstandard and has written about the benefits of zstandard on his blog. You should read that blog post so you are enlightened on how amazing zstandard is.) But because zstandard is relatively new, not all systems have utilities for decompressing that format yet. So, the pyoxidizer python-distribution-extract command can be used to extract the zstandard compressed tar archive to a local filesystem path.

Python distributions contain software governed by a number of licenses. This of course has implications for application distribution. See Licensing Considerations for more.

The pyoxidizer python-distribution-licenses command can be used to inspect a Python distribution archive for information about its licenses. The command will print information about the licensing of the Python distribution itself along with a per-extension breakdown of which libraries are used by which extensions and which licenses apply to what. This command can be super useful to audit for license usage and only allow extensions with licenses that you are legally comfortable with.

For example, the entry for the readline extension shows that the extension links against the ncurses and readline libraries, which are governed by the X11, and GPL-3.0 licenses:


Dependency: ncurses
Link Type: library

Dependency: readline
Link Type: library

Licenses: GPL-3.0, X11
License Info:
License Info:


The license annotations in Python distributions are best effort and can be wrong. They do not constitute a legal promise. Paranoid individuals may want to double check the license annotations by verifying with source code distributions, for example.