Although Python's extensive standard library covers many programming needs, there often comes a time when you need to add some new functionality to your Python installation in the form of third-party modules. This might be necessary to support your own programming, or to support an application that you want to use and that happens to be written in Python.
In the past, there has been little support for adding third-party modules to an existing Python installation. With the introduction of the Python Distribution Utilities (Distutils for short) in Python 2.0, this is starting to change. Not everything will change overnight, though, so while this document concentrates on installing module distributions that use the Distutils, we will also spend some time dealing with the old ways.
This document is aimed primarily at the people who need to install third-party Python modules: end-users and system administrators who just need to get some Python application running, and existing Python programmers who want to add some new goodies to their toolbox. You don't need to know Python to read this document; there will be some brief forays into using Python's interactive mode to explore your installation, but that's it. If you're looking for information on how to distribute your own Python modules so that others may use them, see the Distributing Python Modules manual.