Distribution Considerations for macOS

This document describes some of the considerations when you want to install/run a PyOxidizer-built application on a separate macOS machine from the one that built it.

Operating System and Architecture Requirements

PyOxidizer has support for targeting x86_64 (Intel) and aarch64 (ARM) Apple devices. The default Python distributions target macOS 10.9+ for x86_64 and 11.0+ for aarch64.

Build Machine Requirements

PyOxidizer needs to link new binaries containing Python. Due to the way linking works on Apple platforms, you must use an Apple SDK no older than the one used to build the Python distributions or linker errors (likely undefined symbols) can occur.

PyOxidizer will automatically attempt to locate, validate, and use an appropriate Apple SDK given requirements specified by the Python distribution in use. If you have Xcode or the Xcode Commandline Tools installed, PyOxidizer should be able to locate Apple SDKs automatically. When building, PyOxidizer will print information about Apple SDK discovery. More details are printed when running pyoxidizer --verbose.

PyOxidizer will automatically look for SDKs in the directory specified by xcode-select --print-path. This path is often /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer. You can specify an alternative directory by setting the DEVELOPER_DIR environment variable. e.g.:

DEVELOPER_DIR=/Applications/Xcode-beta.app/Contents/Developer pyoxidizer build

You can override PyOxidizer’s automatic SDK discovery by setting SDKROOT to the base directory of an Apple SDK you want to use. (If you find yourself doing this to work around SDK discovery bugs, please consider creating a GitHub issue to track the problem.) e.g.:

SDKROOT=/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Platforms/MacOSX.platform/Developer/SDKs/MacOSX.sdk pyoxidizer build

Python Distribution Dependencies

The default Python distributions used by PyOxidizer have dependencies on system libraries outside of the Python distribution.

The python-build-standalone project has gone to great lengths to ensure that the Python distributions only link against external libraries and symbols that are present on a default macOS installation.

The default Python distributions are built to target macOS 10.9 on x86_64 and 11.0 on aarch64. So they should just work on those and any newer versions of macOS.

Single Architecture Binaries

PyOxidizer currently only emits single architecture binaries.

Multiple architecture binaries (often referred to as universal or fat binaries) can not (yet) be emitted natively by PyOxidizer.

This means that if you distribute a binary produced by PyOxidizer and want it to run on both Intel and ARM machines, you will need to maintain separate artifacts for Intel and ARM machines or you will need to produce a fat binary outside of PyOxidizer.

https://github.com/indygreg/PyOxidizer/issues/372 tracks implementing support for emitting fat binaries from PyOxidizer. Please engage there if this feature is important to you.

Managing Portability of Built Applications

Like Linux, the macOS build environment can leak into the built application and introduce additional dependencies and degrade the portability of the default Python distributions.

It is common for built binaries to pull in modern macOS SDK features. A common way to prevent this is to set the MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET environment variable during the build to the oldest version of macOS you want to support.

The default Python distributions target macOS 10.9 on x86_64 and 11.0 on aarch64.


PyOxidizer will automatically set the deployment target to match what the Python distribution was built with, so in many cases you don’t need to worry about version targeting.

If you wish to override the default deployment targets, set an alternative value using the appropriate environment variable.:

$ MACOSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET=10.15 pyoxidizer build

Apple’s Xcode documentation has various guides useful for further consideration.