Seth Michael Larson pointed out that the Python gzip module can be used as a CLI tool like this:

python -m gzip --decompress pypi.db.gz

This is a neat Python feature: modules with a if __name__ == "__main__": block that are available on Python’s standard import path can be executed from the terminal using python -m name_of_module.

Seth pointed out this is useful if you are on Windows and don’t have the gzip utility installed.

This made me wonder: what other little tools are lurking in the Python standard library, available on any computer with a working Python installation?

Finding them with ripgrep

I decided to take a sniff around the standard library and see what I can find.

Jim Crist-Harif pointed me to python -m site, which outputs useful information about your installation:

sys.path = [
    '/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.11/3.11.4_1/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.11/lib/python3.11',
    '/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.11/3.11.4_1/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.11/lib/python311.zip',
    '/opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.11/3.11.4_1/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.11/lib/python3.11/lib-dynload',
    '/opt/homebrew/lib/python3.11/site-packages',
    '/opt/homebrew/opt/python@3.11/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.11/lib/python3.11/site-packages',
]
USER_BASE: '/Users/simon/Library/Python/3.11' (doesn't exist)
USER_SITE: '/Users/simon/Library/Python/3.11/lib/python/site-packages' (doesn't exist)
ENABLE_USER_SITE: True

This showed me that the standard library itself for my Homebrew installation of Python 3.11 is in /opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.11/3.11.4_1/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.11/lib/python3.11.

So I switched there and used ripgrep to find likely packages:

cd /opt/homebrew/Cellar/python@3.11/3.11.4_1/Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/3.11/lib/python3.11

Then ran rg:

rg 'if __name__ =' -l | grep -v 'test/' 
  | grep -v 'tests/' | grep -v idlelib | grep -v turtledemo

The -l option causes ripgrep to list matching files without showing the context of the match.

I built up those grep -v exclusions over a few iterations – idlelib/ and turtledemo/ have a bunch of matches that I wasn’t interested in.

Here’s the result:

tabnanny.py
pyclbr.py
netrc.py
heapq.py
fileinput.py
site.py
telnetlib.py
smtplib.py
timeit.py
__hello__.py
aifc.py
json/tool.py
asyncio/__main__.py
runpy.py
mailcap.py
tokenize.py
smtpd.py
sysconfig.py
tarfile.py
lib2to3/pgen2/tokenize.py
lib2to3/pgen2/driver.py
lib2to3/pgen2/literals.py
xmlrpc/server.py
xmlrpc/client.py
getopt.py
dbm/__init__.py
doctest.py
pickle.py
imaplib.py
compileall.py
shlex.py
ast.py
venv/__init__.py
py_compile.py
ensurepip/__main__.py
ensurepip/_uninstall.py
http/server.py
pickletools.py
poplib.py
quopri.py
calendar.py
pprint.py
symtable.py
pstats.py
inspect.py
pdb.py
platform.py
wsgiref/simple_server.py
random.py
ftplib.py
mimetypes.py
turtle.py
tkinter/dialog.py
xml/sax/expatreader.py
tkinter/colorchooser.py
tkinter/dnd.py
tkinter/filedialog.py
tkinter/messagebox.py
tkinter/simpledialog.py
tkinter/font.py
tkinter/scrolledtext.py
xml/sax/xmlreader.py
tkinter/__init__.py
code.py
difflib.py
pydoc.py
uu.py
imghdr.py
filecmp.py
profile.py
cgi.py
codecs.py
modulefinder.py
__phello__/__init__.py
__phello__/spam.py
multiprocessing/spawn.py
textwrap.py
base64.py
curses/textpad.py
curses/has_key.py
zipapp.py
cProfile.py
dis.py
webbrowser.py
nntplib.py
sndhdr.py
gzip.py
ctypes/util.py
zipfile.py
encodings/rot_13.py
distutils/fancy_getopt.py

That’s a lot of neat little tools!

I haven’t explored my way through all of them yet, but running python -m module_name usually outputs something useful, and adding -h frequently provides help.

A few highlights

Here are a few of the commands I’ve figured out so far.

http.server

To run a localhost webserver on port 8000, serving the content of the current directory:

This takes an optional port. To change port, do this:

python -m http.server 8001

Pass -h for more options.

base64

usage: .../base64.py [-h|-d|-e|-u|-t] [file|-]
        -h: print this help message and exit
        -d, -u: decode
        -e: encode (default)
        -t: encode and decode string 'Aladdin:open sesame'

asyncio

This provides a Python console with top-level await:

asyncio REPL 3.11.4 (main, Jun 20 2023, 17:23:00) [Clang 14.0.3 (clang-1403.0.22.14.1)] on darwin
Use "await" directly instead of "asyncio.run()".
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import asyncio
>>> import httpx
>>> async with httpx.AsyncClient() as client:
...     r = await client.get('https://www.example.com/')
... 
>>> r.text[:50]
'nnn  

tokenize

This is fun - it's a debug mode for the Python tokenizer. You can run it directly against a file:

python -m tokenize cgi.py | head -n 10
0,0-0,0:            ENCODING       'utf-8'        
1,0-1,24:           COMMENT        '#! /usr/local/bin/python'
1,24-1,25:          NL             'n'           
2,0-2,1:            NL             'n'           
3,0-3,66:           COMMENT        '# NOTE: the above "/usr/local/bin/python" is NOT a mistake.  It is'
3,66-3,67:          NL             'n'           
4,0-4,59:           COMMENT        '# intentionally NOT "/usr/bin/env python".  On many systems'
4,59-4,60:          NL             'n'           
5,0-5,65:           COMMENT        '# (e.g. Solaris), /usr/local/bin is not in $PATH as passed to CGI'
5,65-5,66:          NL             'n'           

ast

Even more fun than tokenize - a debug mode for the Python AST module!

python -m ast cgi.py | head -n 10
Module(
   body=[
      Expr(
         value=Constant(value='Support module for CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripts.nnThis module defines a number of utilities for use by CGI scriptsnwritten in Python.nnThe global variable maxlen can be set to an integer indicating the maximum sizenof a POST request. POST requests larger than this size will result in anValueError being raised during parsing. The default value of this variable is 0,nmeaning the request size is unlimited.n')),
      Assign(
         targets=[
            Name(id='__version__', ctx=Store())],
         value=Constant(value='2.6')),
      ImportFrom(
         module='io',

I used this module to build my symbex tool - this debug mode would have helped quite a bit if I'd found out about it earlier.

json.tool

Pretty-print JSON:

echo '{"foo": "bar", "baz": [1, 2, 3]}' | python -m json.tool
{
    "foo": "bar",
    "baz": [
        1,
        2,
        3
    ]
}

Tip from Joe Kerhin:

json.tool will also exit with nonzero status if your json document is invalid.

random

I thought this might provide a utility for generating random numbers, but sadly it's just a benchmarking suite with no additional command-line options:

0.000 sec, 2000 times random
avg 0.49105, stddev 0.290864, min 0.00216092, max 0.999473

0.001 sec, 2000 times normalvariate
avg -0.00286956, stddev 0.996872, min -3.42333, max 4.2012

0.001 sec, 2000 times lognormvariate
avg 1.64228, stddev 2.13138, min 0.0386213, max 34.0379

0.001 sec, 2000 times vonmisesvariate
avg 3.18754, stddev 2.27556, min 0.00336177, max 6.28306
...

nntplib

"nntplib built-in demo - display the latest articles in a newsgroup"

It defaults to gmane.comp.python.general:

Group gmane.comp.python.general has 757237 articles, range 23546 to 848591
 848582 MRAB via Python-...  Re: Trouble with defaults and timeout ...  (40)
 848583 Dave Ohlsson via...  unable to run the basic Embedded Pytho...  (179)
 848584 Piergiorgio Sart...  Re: Trouble with defaults and timeout ...  (43)
 848585 Dan Kolis via Py...  TKinter in Python - advanced notions - ok  (52)
 848586 Fulian Wang via ...  Re: unable to run the basic Embedded P...  (190)
 848587 Fulian Wang via ...  Re: unable to run the basic Embedded P...  (220)
 848588 Christian Gollwi...  Re: unable to run the basic Embedded P...  (26)
 848589 small marcc via ...  my excel file is not updated to add ne...  (42)
 848590 Thomas Passin vi...  Re: my excel file is not updated to ad...  (47)
 848591 dn via Python-list   Re: my excel file is not updated to ad...  (207)

Those look like real, recent messages - I matched them with this mirror.

When I tried passing other newsgroup names with python -m nntplib -g alt.humor.puns I got an error though:

NNTPTemporaryError: 411 No such group alt.humor.puns

calendar

Show a calendar for the current year:

                                  2023

      January                   February                   March
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
                   1             1  2  3  4  5             1  2  3  4  5
 2  3  4  5  6  7  8       6  7  8  9 10 11 12       6  7  8  9 10 11 12
 9 10 11 12 13 14 15      13 14 15 16 17 18 19      13 14 15 16 17 18 19
16 17 18 19 20 21 22      20 21 22 23 24 25 26      20 21 22 23 24 25 26
23 24 25 26 27 28 29      27 28                     27 28 29 30 31
30 31

       April                      May                       June
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
                1  2       1  2  3  4  5  6  7                1  2  3  4
 3  4  5  6  7  8  9       8  9 10 11 12 13 14       5  6  7  8  9 10 11
10 11 12 13 14 15 16      15 16 17 18 19 20 21      12 13 14 15 16 17 18
17 18 19 20 21 22 23      22 23 24 25 26 27 28      19 20 21 22 23 24 25
24 25 26 27 28 29 30      29 30 31                  26 27 28 29 30

        July                     August                  September
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
                1  2          1  2  3  4  5  6                   1  2  3
 3  4  5  6  7  8  9       7  8  9 10 11 12 13       4  5  6  7  8  9 10
10 11 12 13 14 15 16      14 15 16 17 18 19 20      11 12 13 14 15 16 17
17 18 19 20 21 22 23      21 22 23 24 25 26 27      18 19 20 21 22 23 24
24 25 26 27 28 29 30      28 29 30 31               25 26 27 28 29 30
31

      October                   November                  December
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su      Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
                   1             1  2  3  4  5                   1  2  3
 2  3  4  5  6  7  8       6  7  8  9 10 11 12       4  5  6  7  8  9 10
 9 10 11 12 13 14 15      13 14 15 16 17 18 19      11 12 13 14 15 16 17
16 17 18 19 20 21 22      20 21 22 23 24 25 26      18 19 20 21 22 23 24
23 24 25 26 27 28 29      27 28 29 30               25 26 27 28 29 30 31
30 31

This one has a bunch more options (visible with -h). python -m calendar -t html produces the calendar in HTML, for example.

Loads more

There are plenty more in there - these are just the ones I've explored so far.

Related

Created 2023-06-28T17:16:48-07:00, updated 2023-06-29T16:52:36-07:00 · History · Edit

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