Building and Distribution

Python version

PyO3 uses a build script to determine the Python version and set the correct linker arguments. By default it uses the python3 executable. You can override the Python interpreter by setting PYTHON_SYS_EXECUTABLE, e.g., PYTHON_SYS_EXECUTABLE=python3.6.


Different linker arguments must be set for libraries/extension modules and binaries, which includes both standalone binaries and tests. (More specifically, binaries must be told where to find libpython and libraries must not link to libpython for manylinux compliance).

Since PyO3's build script can't know whether you're building a binary or a library, you have to activate the extension-module feature to get the build options for a library, or it'll default to binary.

If you have e.g. a library crate and a profiling crate alongside, you need to use optional features. E.g. you put the following in the library crate:

pyo3 = "0.6"

name = "hyperjson"
crate-type = ["rlib", "cdylib"]

default = ["pyo3/extension-module"]

And this in the profiling crate:

my_main_crate = { path = "..", default-features = false }
pyo3 = "0.6"

On Linux/macOS you might have to change LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include libpython, while on windows you might need to set LIB to include pythonxy.lib (where x and y are major and minor version), which is normally either in the libs or Lib folder of a Python installation.


There are two ways to distribute your module as a Python package: the old, setuptools-rust, and the new, maturin. setuptools-rust needs some configuration files (,,, etc.) and external tools (docker, twine). maturin doesn't need any configuration files, however it does not support some functionality of setuptools such as package data (pyo3/maturin#258).

Cross Compiling

Cross compiling PyO3 modules is relatively straightforward and requires a few pieces of software:

  • A toolchain for your target.
  • The appropriate options in your Cargo .config for the platform you're targeting and the toolchain you are using.
  • A Python interpreter that's already been compiled for your target.
  • The headers that match the above interpreter.

See for a primer on cross compiling Rust in general.

After you've obtained the above, you can build a cross compiled PyO3 module by setting a few extra environment variables:

  • PYO3_CROSS_INCLUDE_DIR: This variable must be set to the directory containing the headers for the target's Python interpreter.
  • PYO3_CROSS_LIB_DIR: This variable must be set to the directory containing the target's libpython DSO.

An example might look like the following (assuming your target's sysroot is at /home/pyo3/cross/sysroot and that your target is armv7):

export PYO3_CROSS_INCLUDE_DIR="/home/pyo3/cross/sysroot/usr/include"
export PYO3_CROSS_LIB_DIR="/home/pyo3/cross/sysroot/usr/lib"

cargo build --target armv7-unknown-linux-gnueabihf