OxidizedFinder Behavior and Compliance

OxidizedFinder strives to be as compliant as possible with other meta path importers. So generally speaking, the behavior as described by the importlib documentation should be compatible. In other words, things should mostly just work and any deviance from the importlib documentation constitutes a bug worth reporting.

That being said, OxidizedFinder’s approach to loading resources is drastically different from more traditional means, notably loading files from the filesystem. PyOxidizer breaks a lot of assumptions about how things have worked in Python and there is some behavior that may seem odd or in violation of documented behavior in Python.

The sections below attempt to call out known areas where OxidizedFinder deviates from typical behavior.

__file__ and __cached__ Module Attributes

Python modules typically have a __file__ attribute holding a str defining the filesystem path the source module was imported from (usually a path to a .py file). There is also the similar - but lesser known - __cached__ attribute holding the filesystem path of the bytecode module (usually the path to a .pyc file).


OxidizedFinder will not set either attribute when importing modules from memory.

These attributes are not set because it isn’t obvious what the values should be! Typically, __file__ is used by Python as an anchor point to derive the path to some other file. However, when loading modules from memory, the traditional filesystem hierarchy of Python modules does not exist. In the opinion of PyOxidizer’s maintainer, exposing __file__ would be lying and this would cause more potential for harm than good.

While we may make it possible to define __file__ (and __cached__) on modules imported from memory someday, we do not yet support this.

OxidizedFinder does, however, set __file__ and __cached__ on modules imported from the filesystem. See Python Resource Locations for more on registering files for filesystem loading. So, a workaround to restore these missing attributes is to avoid in-memory loading.


Use of __file__ is commonly encountered in code loading resource files. See Loading Resource Files for more on this topic, including how to port code to more modern Python APIs for loading resources.

__path__ Module Attribute

Python modules that are also packages must have a __path__ attribute containing an iterable of str. The iterable can be empty.

If a module is imported from the filesystem, OxidizedFinder will set __path__ to the parent directory of the module’s file, just like the standard filesystem importer would.

If a module is imported from memory, __path__ will be set to the path of the current executable joined with the package name. e.g. if the current executable is /usr/bin/myapp and the module/package name is foo.bar, __path__ will be ["/usr/bin/myapp/foo/bar"]. On Windows, paths might look like C:\dev\myapp.exe\foo\bar.

Python’s zipimport importer uses the same approach for modules imported from zip files, so there is precedence for OxidizedFinder doing things this way.

ResourceReader Compatibility

ResourceReader has known compatibility differences with Python’s default filesystem-based importer. See Support for ResourceReader for details.

ResourceLoader Compatibility

The ResourceLoader interface is implemented but behavior of get_data(path) has some variance with Python’s filesystem-based importer.

See Support for ResourceLoader for details.


ResourceLoader is deprecated as of Python 3.7. Code should be ported to ResourceReader / importlib.resources if possible.

importlib.metadata Compatibility

OxidizedFinder implements find_distributions() and therefore provides the required hook for importlib.metadata to resolve Distribution instances. However, the returned objects do not implement the full Distribution interface.

Here are the known differences between OxidizedDistribution and importlib.metadata.Distribution instances:

  • locate_file() is not defined.
  • @classmethod from_name() is not defined.
  • @classmethod discover() is not defined.
  • @staticmethod at() is not defined.
  • @property files raises NotImplementedError.

There are additional _ prefixed attributes of importlib.metadata.Distribution that are not implemented. But we do not consider these part of the public API and don’t feel they are worth calling out.

In addition, OxidizedFinder.find_distributions() ignores the path attribute of the passed Context instance. Only the name attribute is consulted. If name is None, all packages with registered distribution files will be returned. Otherwise the returned list contains at most 1 PyOxidizerDistribution corresponding to the requested package name.