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bbfreeze - create stand-alone executables from python scripts

Authors: Ralf Schmitt <>
Version: 1.1.3
Date: 2014-01-20


bbfreeze currently does not have a maintainer. If that doesn't scare you off, read on!


bbfreeze creates stand-alone executables from python scripts. It's similar in purpose to the well known py2exe for windows, py2app for OS X, PyInstaller and cx_Freeze (in fact ancient versions were based on cx_Freeze. And it uses the modulegraph package, which is also used by py2app).

It has the following features:

easy installation
bbfreeze can be installed with setuptools' easy_install command.
zip/egg file import tracking
bbfreeze tracks imports from zip files and includes whole egg files if some module is used from an eggfile. Packages using setuputils' pkg_resources module will now work (new in 0.95.0)
binary dependency tracking
bbfreeze will track binary dependencies and will include DLLs and shared libraries needed by a frozen program.
multiple script freezing
bbfreeze can freeze multiple scripts at once.
python interpreter included
bbfreeze will create an extra executable named 'py', which might be used like the python executable itself.
automatic pathname rewriting
pathnames in tracebacks are replaced with relative pathnames (i.e. if you import package from /home/jdoe/pylib/ tracebacks generated from functions in will not show your local path /home/jdoe/pylib/foo/ They will instead show foo/
distutils command 'bdist_bbfreeze'
A new distutils/setuptools command bdist_bbfreeze integrates bbfreeze into your

bbfreeze works on windows and UNIX-like operating systems. bbfreeze has been tested with python 2.4, 2.5, 2.6 and 2.7 bbfreeze will not work with python 3 or higher. bbfreeze does not work on OS X.

Contact Information

bbfreeze has been developed by brainbot technologies AG. Questions and suggestions should be send to the bbfreeze-users mailing list:

You can subscribe by sending email to

An archive is available at

You can also reach the author via email to


Windows Eggs and the source code can be downloaded from

The source code is maintained in a git repository on github:


git clone

to create a copy of the repository, then:

git pull

inside the copy to receive the latest version.


You need to have setuptools/easy_install installed. Installation should be as easy as typing:

easy_install bbfreeze

This should download bbfreeze and it's dependencies modulegraph and altgraph and install them.


  • documentation is a bit sparse

bbfreeze - command line tool

bbfreeze provides a command line utility called bbfreeze, which freezes all python scripts given on the command line into the directory dist, which then contains for each script an executable and all dependencies needed by those executables.

Example Usage:

$ cat
#! /usr/bin/env python

import sys
import email

print unicode("hello", "utf8"), unicode("world!", "ascii")

print "sys.path:", sys.path
print "__file__:", __file__
print "__name__:", __name__

print "locals():", locals()

print "sys.argv", sys.argv
print "sys.executable:", sys.executable
$ bbfreeze
WARNING: found encodings in multiple directories. Assuming it's a namespace package. (found in /home/ralf/py27/lib/python2.7/encodings, /usr/lib/python2.7/encodings)
*** applied <function recipe_doctest at 0x1f01aa0>
*** applied <function recipe_time at 0x1f01de8>
*** applied <function recipe_urllib at 0x1f01c08>
RPATH ${ORIGIN}:${ORIGIN}/../lib is fine
$ dist/hello-world
hello world!
sys.path: ['/home/ralf/bbfreeze/tests/dist/', '/home/ralf/bbfreeze/tests/dist']
__name__: __main__
locals(): {'__builtins__': <module '__builtin__' (built-in)>, '__file__': '', '__package__': None, 'sys': <module 'sys' (built-in)>, 'email': <module 'email' from '/home/ralf/bbfreeze/tests/dist/'>, '__name__': '__main__', '__doc__': None}
sys.argv ['/home/ralf/bbfreeze/tests/dist/hello-world']
sys.executable: /home/ralf/bbfreeze/tests/dist/hello-world
$ dist/py
Python 2.7.2 (default, Nov 21 2011, 17:25:27)
[GCC 4.6.2] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import email

bdist_bbfreeze - distutils command

bbfreeze provides a distutils command which works much like the 'bbfreeze' command line tool, but integrates nicely into distutils and setuptools. It collects all 'console_scripts' 'gui_scripts' entry-points, generates the wrapper scripts (like easy_install would do) and freezes these scripts.

After installing bbfreeze, every which used setuptools, has a new command 'bdist_bbfreeze'. To show the help message just run:

python bdist_bbfreeze --help

Usage examples:

# freeze all scripts into ./dist/<egg_name>-<egg_version>/
python bdist_bbfreeze

# same, but use tagging for "daily build" or "snapshot" releases
python egg_info --tag-build=dev bdist_bbfreeze

bbfreeze - API

The preferred way to use bbfreeze is by writing short python scripts, which use bbfreeze's API. Let's start with a short example:

from bbfreeze import Freezer
f = Freezer("hello-world-1.0", includes=("_strptime",))
f()    # starts the freezing process

bbfreeze.Freezer(distdir="dist", includes=(), excludes=()) instantiates a Freezer object. It will create the frozen executables and dependencies inside the distdir directory. includes is a list or tuple of modules to include, excludes is a list or tuple of modules to exclude. Note that the freezer will delete the directory distdir before freezing!

bbfreeze.Freezer objects have the following members:

  • use_compression: flag whether to use compression inside the created zipfile (default True).
  • include_py: flag whether to create the included python interpreter py (default True)
  • addScript(path, gui_only=False): register a python script for freezing. path must be the path to a python script. The freezer will scan the file for dependencies and will create an executable with the same name in distdir. The gui_only flag only has a meaning on windows: If set, the executable created for this script will not open a console window.


Recipes provide a way to control the freezing process. Have a look at bbfreeze/ if you need to implement your own. Note that the API might change.

Linux Notes

The glibc version on the system used for freezing will generally be the minimum glibc version required to run the binaries.

gtk, gdk, pango, glib shared libraries will not be copied by the freezing process. Those need a rather complicated runtime system and copying them would probably only lead to problems.

Windows Notes

binaries created with python 2.6 or 2.7 will need the Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Redistributable Package (either the 32bit or the 64bit version) installed on the target machine.


2014-01-20 release 1.1.3

  • Excluding Crypt32.dll
  • Add support for SunOS (tested on SmartOS)
  • Added current python executable path to allow freezing even if python is not installed (portable python, buildout)

2013-07-17 release 1.1.2

  • fix extension loader on python 2.4

2013-07-14 release 1.1.1

  • Adding icon for executables on windows. Added SetIcon method to Freezer. Winexeutil uses win32api so pywin32 must be installed to use.
  • unconditionally copy console.exe to dist dir and ensure permissions are usable

2013-04-10 release 1.1.0

  • bbfreeze has been split into bbfreeze-loader package and a pure python bbfreeze module. this should allow me to make more regular releases.
  • add recipe for lxml.etree
  • don't pollute module namespace while importing
  • don't pollute the modules namespace in EXTENSION_LOADER_SOURCE
  • make sure we use absolute imports in EXTENSION_LOADER_SOURCE
  • do not pick up bbfreeze/ when freezing bbfreeze/
  • fix 'googlegroup subscribe' address
  • fix bdist_egg procedure when setuptools is not importable
  • fix the bdist_egg procedure when running under buildout
  • normalize package names in 'dont_copy_as_egg'
  • only execute entry point scripts when called as __main__
  • use a project specific name for egg-info directories
  • don't install PyXML as egg since it won't work
  • add addEntryPoint method
  • copy egg-info directories
  • rename bb-freeze to bbfreeze
  • rely on setuptools/distribute being installed
  • shorten and simplify extension loader
  • use absolute imports in the extension loader to load stdlib modules

2012-10-23 release 1.0.2

  • use altgraph 0.9 as 0.10 is incompatible

2012-09-27 release 1.0.1

  • update links to alternative freezers
  • skip, which is a part of glibc
  • call patchelf for anything which looks like a binary

2012-02-08 release 1.0.0

  • better test infrastructure
  • update documentation
  • remove bbfreeze.macholib
  • fix build on ubuntu 11.10
  • handle platform=='linux3' case in ensureRPath
  • make py recipe work again.
  • handle "pip -e" installed development eggs, that aren't even setuptools packages

2011-04-12 release 0.97.3

  • exclude ms-win-api-* and query.dll.
  • make py parse minimal set of options required to run py.test on the frozen executable.
  • link with /LARGEADDRESSAWARE on win32
  • ensure RPATH of application loader has the right value. try to fix it with patchelf if not.
  • set dont_write_bytecode and no_user_site flags if they are available.
  • handle pip installed namespace packages

2010-10-12 release 0.97.2

  • workaround console.exe not being executable.
  • switch to from setuptools-0.6c11.
  • make win32com work by using a temporary directory as it's __gen_path__.

2010-08-19 release 0.97.1

  • add missing README.rst file.

2010-08-17 release 0.97.0

  • make it compatible with latest altgraph
  • add recipe for gevent
  • fix build on latest ubuntu

2008-09-18 release 0.96.5

  • added distutils command 'bdist_bbfreeze' contributed by Hartmut Goebel
  • executables are now stripped with the 'strip' command. This makes a difference in file size when using a static libpython.a.

2008-8-29 release 0.96.4

  • record previously missing dependencies for subpackage imports. This bug only showed up when dependencies where explicitly removed.

2008-8-18 release 0.96.3

  • fix issues with some packages, which where wrongly recognized as development eggs

2008-8-5 release 0.96.2

  • a slightly patched getpath.c from python trunk has been added. This should fix sys.getfilesystemencoding() for statically linked python. We also try to link with the static library in case the shared one has been linked with -Bsymbolic (which makes it impossible to override the necessary symbols). This happens e.g. on Ubuntu 8.04.
  • __file__ in the main program now has a .py suffix. This prevents garbage output from the warnings module.
  • some recipes have been added (mostly breaking some unneeded dependencies).
  • explicit recipes for the email module have been added. the email module isn't added as a whole.
  • the setup script now reports the configuration used.
  • bbfreeze now tracks dependencies from eggs (i.e. dependencies specified in the egg's script).

2008-3-14 release 0.96.1

  • fix bug in an internal function, which determines if eggs should be used. It always returned False, so eggs where never packaged.

2008-3-13 release 0.96.0

  • some egg packages have the site-packages directory as their location, which resulted in the whole site-packages directory being copied as some egg file.
  • fix issue with wxPython
  • add recipe for mercurial
  • handle development eggs ("python develop") by running bdist_egg
  • handle easy install entry scripts
  • add recipe for kinterbasdb (thanks to Werner F. Bruhin)
  • fix LD_RUN_PATH issue, when --enable--new-dtags is the default for linking (e.g. on gentoo). (thanks to Collin Day)

2007-12-6 release 0.95.4

  • workaround for virtualenv
  • show execution time in py

2007-10-16 release 0.95.3

  • recipes for pythoncom/pywintypes have been added
  • make sys.getfilesystemencoding() work like in non-frozen versions
  • automatic pathname rewriting
  • make stdin, stdout and stderr unbuffered in frozen programs

2007-7-12 release 0.95.2

  • fix issues with c modules with suffix '', e.g.,, ... (fedora core 7 uses that naming scheme; thanks to Neil Becker for reporting) The frozen executable did bail out with zipimport.ZipImportError: can't decompress data; zlib not available".

2007-7-11 release 0.95.1

  • compile .py files from eggs when there is no accompanying .pyc file
  • skip egg/zip files in find_all_packages (makes some recipes work)

2007-7-6 release 0.95.0

  • support for egg files: bbfreeze scans zipped egg files and now includes whole egg files/directories in the distribution. Programs using setuptools' pkg_resources module will now work (thanks to Eirik Svendsen for testing this).

2007-6-28 release 0.94.1

  • fix bug in setup script, now the patched modulegraph is really used
  • better recipe handling

2007-6-22 release 0.94.0

  • support relative imports (backported from modulefinder, bbfreeze now ships with its' own patched copy of modulegraph).
  • fix xml/_xmlplus issues
  • add recipe for cElementTree

2007-5-31 release 0.93.2

  • include tcl/tk runtime files (really makes Tkinter work)
  • exclude gtk, pango and friends (i.e. they must be installed on the target system)

2007-5-14 release 0.93.1

  • make py executable work when readline is not installed
  • fix dll search path issue (makes Tkinter work)

2007-5-3 release 0.93.0

  • dependency on should now always be recognized
  • support for namespace packages
  • basic support for zipfiles/eggs (bbfreeze will scan zipfiles/eggs for dependencies and will implement a dummy pkg_resources.require in frozen executables). Note that the remaining pkg_resources functionality just isn't available.
  • documentation updates

2007-4-27 release 0.92.0

  • better binary dependency cache handling
  • fix recipe for time module on windows
  • use pefile module on windows for binary dependency tracking
  • add gui_only flag to addScript method (which builds GUI programs on windows, i.e. without console)
  • strip shared libraries on non windows platforms
  • add showxref method
  • working recipe for py.magic.greenlet

2007-4-24 Initial release 0.91.0


bbfreeze contains a modified copy of modulegraph, which is distributed under the MIT license and is copyrighted by Bob Ippolito.

bbfreeze contains a modified copy of getpath.c from the python distribution, which is distributed under the python software foundation license version 2 and copyrighted by the python software foundation.

bbfreeze includes a module '' which is

Copyright 2008-2012 by Hartmut Goebel <>

The 'bdist_bbfreeze' module may be distributed under the same licence as bbfreeze itself.

The remaining part is distributed under the zlib/libpng license:

Copyright (c) 2007-2012 brainbot technologies AG

This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose, including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it freely, subject to the following restrictions:

  1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be appreciated but is not required.
  2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be misrepresented as being the original software.
  3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.