A Byte of Python 

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Python is probably one of the few programming languages which is both simple and powerful. This is good for both and beginners as well as experts, and more importantly, is fun to program with. This book aims to help you learn this wonderful language and show how to get things done quickly and painlessly - in effect 'The Perfect Anti-venom to your programming problems'.

Who This Book Is For

This book serves as a guide or tutorial to the Python programming language. It is mainly targeted at newbies. It is useful for experienced programmers as well.

The aim is that if all you know about computers is how to save text files, then you can learn Python from this book. If you have previous programming experience, then you can also learn Python from this book.

If you do have previous programming experience, you will be interested in the differences between Python and your favorite programming language - I have highlighted many such differences. A little warning though, Python is soon going to become your favorite programming language!

History Lesson

I first started with Python when I needed to write an installer for my software Diamond so that I could make the installation easy. I had to choose between Python and Perl bindings for the Qt library. I did some research on the web and I came across an article where Eric S. Raymond, the famous and respected hacker, talked about how Python has become his favorite programming language. I also found out that the PyQt bindings were very good compared to Perl-Qt. So, I decided that Python was the language for me.

Then, I started searching for a good book on Python. I couldn't find any! I did find some O'Reilly books but they were either too expensive or were more like a reference manual than a guide. So, I settled for the documentation that came with Python. However, it was too brief and small. It did give a good idea about Python but was not complete. I managed with it since I had previous programming experience, but it was unsuitable for newbies.

About six months after my first brush with Python, I installed the (then) latest Red Hat 9.0 Linux and I was playing around with KWord. I got excited about it and suddenly got the idea of writing some stuff on Python. I started writing a few pages but it quickly became 30 pages long. Then, I became serious about making it more useful in a book form. After a lot of rewrites, it has reached a stage where it has become a useful guide to learning the Python language. I consider this book to be my contribution and tribute to the open source community.

This book started out as my personal notes on Python and I still consider it in the same way, although I've taken a lot of effort to make it more palatable to others :)

In the true spirit of open source, I have received lots of constructive suggestions, criticisms and feedback from enthusiastic readers which has helped me improve this book a lot.

Status of the book

This book is a work-in-progress. Many chapters are constantly being changed and improved. However, the book has matured a lot. You should be able to learn Python easily from this book. Please do tell me if you find any part of the book to be incorrect or incomprehensible.

More chapters are planned for the future, such as on wxPython, Twisted and maybe even Boa Constructor.

Official Website

The official website of the book is . From the website, you can read the whole book online or you can download the latest versions of the book, and also send me feedback.

License Terms

This book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License 2.0 .

Basically, you are free to copy, distribute, and display the book, as long as you give credit to me. The restrictions are that you cannot use the book for commercial purposes without my permission. You are free to modify and build upon this work, provided that you clearly mark all changes and release the modified work under the same license as this book.

Please visit the Creative Commons website for the full and exact text of the license, or for an easy-to-understand version. There is even a comic strip explaining the terms of the license.


I have put in a lot of effort to make this book as interesting and as accurate as possible. However, if you find some material to be inconsistent or incorrect, or simply needs improvement, then please do inform me, so that I can make suitable improvements. You can reach me at <swaroop (at)> .

Something To Think About


There are two ways of constructing a software design: one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies; the other is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.

  --C. A. R. Hoare

Success in life is a matter not so much of talent and opportunity as of concentration and perseverance.

  --C. W. Wendte