Pre-PEP: Platform Tag for Linux Distributions Using Musl

Continuing the discussion in Wheels for musl (Alpine), here’s my draft to propose musllinux. Sponsor needed.

Rendered restructedText version (GitHub).

The version below is converted to Markdown with pandoc. I did not read the result and it may contain rendering errors.

PEP: 9999
Title: Platform Tag for Linux Distributions Using Musl
Author: Tzu-ping Chung <>
Sponsor: TBD
PEP-Delegate: TBD
Discussions-To: TBD
Status: Draft
Type: Informational
Content-Type: text/x-rst
Created: TBA


This PEP proposes a new platfrom tag series musllinux for binary
Python package distributions for a Python installation linked against
musl on a Linux distribution. The tag works similarly to the “perennial
manylinux” platform tags specified in 600{.interpreted-text
role=“pep”}, but targeting platforms based on musl instead.


With the wide use of containers, distributions such as Alpine Linux,
[alpine]{.citation} have been gaining more popularity than
ever. Many of them based on musl, [musl]{.citation} a
different libc implementation from glibc, and therefore cannot use the
existing manylinux platform tags. This means that Python package
projects cannot deploy binary distributions on PyPI for them. Users of
such projects demand build constraints from those projects, putting
unnecessary burden on project maintainers.


Logic behind the new platform tag largely follows
600{.interpreted-text role=“pep”}, and require wheels using this tag
make similar promises. Please refer to the PEP for more details on
rationale and reasoning behind the design.


Tags using the new scheme will take the form:


Distributions using the tag make similar promises to those discribed in
600{.interpreted-text role=“pep”}, including:

  1. The distribution works on any mainstream Linux distributions with
    musl version ${MUSLMAJOR}.${MUSLMINOR} or later.
  2. The distribution’s ${ARCH} matches the return value of
    sysconfig.get_platform() on the host system.

Backwards Compatibility

There are no backwards compatibility concerns in this PEP.

Rejected Ideas

Create a platform tag based specifically for Alpine Linux

Past experience on the manylinux tag series shows this approach would
be too costly time-wise. The author feels the “works well with others”
rule both is more inclusive and works well enough in practice.



This document is placed in the public domain or under the
CC0-1.0-Universal license, whichever is more permissive.

::: {#citations}

[alpine]{#alpine .citation-label}


[musl]{#musl .citation-label}


1 Like

For convenience: PEP 600 -- Future 'manylinux' Platform Tags for Portable Linux Built Distributions |

1 Like

muslinux? Save a character?

Regarding “mainstream Linux distributions”, does that include OpenWRT, which has no GTK/Gnome and X libraries at all in their repository?

These libraries aren’t in the Alpine container image, but can be installed via apk.

According to Nathaniel’s summary here on Alpine (Wheels for musl (Alpine) - #36 by njs), none of those libraries should be expected from a mainstream musl-based distribution. Manylinux wheels should not rely on the system package manager providing dependencies, so should not musllinux. As an analogy, PyQt5 wheels for manylinux do not depend on Qt libraries being available, even though they are installable from package managers. Those libraries are vendored into the wheel instead.

There are two open PRs related to musl libc. The first one defines a platform triplet for shared libraries ABI on musl system. Could you please take a look?


A binary built on 1.1.24 isn’t guaranteed to work on 1.1.23, though as mentioned in other threads, it’s unlikely that compiled Python extensions will be using things just recently added to the library.

I would say “musl-based container” instead, because the distros themselves definitely provide those libraries. IMO it would be reasonable (at a later point in time) to define a “batteries-provided” container spec that includes more than just musl and zlib.

Is this specifically about 1.1.23 and 1.1.24, or how musl works in general? The tag can be made to include the micro/patch part if needed, but that’s probably not worth it if this is specific to this version combination.

“Container” would be a weird wording IMO since containerisation has nothing to do with this. A Linux distribution is a Linux distribution, it does not matter if it’s a container or not.

Quoting PEP 600:

The word “mainstream” is intentionally somewhat vague, and should be interpreted expansively.

If “musl-based container” has a meaning to the community other than a base Alpine installation, it’s up to the people to decide what a “mainstream musl-based distribution” means. With that said, if you feel it’s more beneficial to define a battery-included platform instead, feel free to write a PEP for it. I’ve seen how painful the previous manylinux iterations were, and want to stick to the conclusion they eventually reached (PEP 600), but my opinion should not by any means stop you.

That shouldn’t be much of an issue - the manylinux approach has been from the start to “build with the lowest common denominator”, which is then still compatible with newer versions at runtime. So unless there are critical bugs to avoid, musllinux_1_1 / musllinux_1_2 should (would) probably use the lowest sensible patch level to avoid just this problem.

That was just an example. As you can see in the “new features” item for each release in WHATSNEW - musl - musl - an implementation of the standard library for Linux-based systems , multiple 1.1.x and 1.2.x releases included new features (be they functions or options to pass to functions).

Oh, I think if it ever exists, it would definitely be in the future; I hadn’t even thought of OpenWrt, which is a distro that won’t even have the GUI related libraries available. The current approach seems reasonable, sorry if I made it seem otherwise :slight_smile:

Sorry, that was just a nit on the wording of that comment, since most musl distros can pretty easily install those other libraries (and I generally read “available” as something that can be installed, not as something that’s present by default). But getting something off the ground with simpler requirements makes a lot of sense to me.

I like “manylinux2010” name since it gives an idea of the ABI age, and it’s simple to remember (single number). Why not reusing this scheme for musl? I expect the ABI would include way more libraries versions than just the musl version. For example, it can also include a specific C++ ABI version through the compiler.

manylinux2010 gives an explicit list: PEP 571 -- The manylinux2010 Platform Tag |

Do you need to care about “compatibility with kernels that lack vsyscall” that glibc had of recent Linux kernels? Does musl use that?

Which architectures do you target? Architecture - Alpine Linux lists:

  • x86
  • x86_64
  • armhf
  • armv7
  • aarch64
  • ppc64le
  • s390x

I understand that manylinux2010 only supports x86_64 and i686.

It would be nice to give a link to manylinux2010: PEP 571 -- The manylinux2010 Platform Tag |

Why not reusing this scheme for musl? I

The new spec should follow PEP 600. The next manylinux* tag will be a PEP600 compliant manylinux_2_24 That is a step forward, since it more aptly describes what the spec is about: the glibc version it supports. The versions of the other libraries in the explicit list are more of a “minimum viable product”

It would be nice to give a link to manylinux2010

Maybe you meant manylinux2014 PEP 599 which does support the architectures you list (except armv7 and armh4).

This scheme is based on PEP 600, which from my understanding is the preferred approach going forward. It’s definitely possible to use the year-based approach if you are willing to take the responsibility to update the year number periodically for the community. I’m not doing that.

I see little benefit in using a year-based scheme in practice either (for musl specifically). The most popular musl-based distribution by far is Alpine, the base image of which only contains one additional library (libz), so a year-based scheme is little more than a mapping that translates musl version to year number.

Year-based manylinux platforms limit architectures to i686 and x86_64 because that’s what CentOS has. A libc-version-based scheme does not have the same constraint, and applies to any architecture that runs musl and Python.

Why are year-based manylinux platforms limited to X86 and X86_64? manylinux2014 and CentOS 7 also supports aarch64, ppc64le, and s390x.

Sorry, the comment was based on manylinux2010 and I missed that 2014 added additional architectures.

What I was trying to say is, year-based manylinux platforms need to explicitly specify the architecture because they are limited to what the “base” can offer (CentOS); a libc-version-based platform does not have this limit because it’s defined by functionalities, and any architecture that all the “playing well” libraries can be built on automatically qualify; vice versa, if any of those common libraries cannot be built, the architecture is auromatically out. PEP 600 does not contain an architecture list either.

1 Like