Installing and Zope with zc.buildout

This document descibes how to get going with Zope using zc.buildout.

About zc.buildout

zc.buildout is a powerful tool for creating repeatable builds of a given software configuration and environment. The Zope developers use zc.buildout to develop Zope itself, as well as the underlying packages it uses.


In order to use Zope, you must have the following pre-requisites available:

  • A supported version of Python, including the development support if installed from system-level packages. Supported versions include:
    • 2.6.x
  • Zope needs the Python zlib module to be importable. If you are building your own Python from source, please be sure that you have the headers installed which correspond to your system’s zlib.
  • A C compiler capable of building extension modules for your Python (gcc recommended). This is not necessary for Windows as binary releases of the parts that would need compiling are always made available.
  • If you wish to install Zope as a Service on Windows, you will need to have the pywin32 package installed.

Installing standalone Zope using zc.buildout

In this configuration, we use zc.buildout to install the Zope software, but then generate server “instances” outside the buildout environment.

Installing the Zope software

Installing the Zope software using zc.buildout involves the following steps:

  • Download the Zope 2 source distribution from PyPI
  • Bootstrap the buildout
  • Run the buildout

On Linux, this can be done as follows:

$ wget<Zope version>.tar.gz
$ tar xfvz Zope2-<Zope version>.tar.gz
$ cd Zope2-<Zope version>
$ /path/to/your/python bootstrap/
$ bin/buildout

Creating a Zope instance

Once you’ve installed Zope, you will need to create an “instance home”. This is a directory that contains configuration and data for a Zope server process. The instance home is created using the mkzopeinstance script:

$ bin/mkzopeinstance

You can specify the Python interpreter to use for the instance explicitly:

$ bin/mkzopeinstance --python=$PWD/bin/zopepy

You will be asked to provide a user name and password for an administrator’s account during mkzopeinstance. To see the available command-line options, run the script with the --help option:

$ bin/mkzopeinstance --help


The traditional “inplace” build is no longer supported. If using mkzopeinstance, always do so outside the buildout environment.

Creating a buildout-based Zope instance

Rather than installing Zope separately from your instance, you may wish to use zc.buildout to create a self-contained environment, containing both the Zope software and the configuration and data for your server. This procedure involves the following steps:


parts = instance
extends = versions.cfg

recipe = zc.recipe.egg
eggs = Zope2
interpreter = py
scripts = runzope zopectl
initialization =
  import sys
  sys.argv[1:1] = ['-C',r'${buildout:directory}/etc/zope.conf']

This is the minimum but all the usual buildout techniques can be used.

  • Bootstrap the buildout
  • Run the buildout
  • Create a Zope configuration file. A minimal version would be:


%define INSTANCE <path to your instance directory>

python $INSTANCE/bin/py[.exe on Windows]

instancehome $INSTANCE

A fully-annotated sample can be found in the Zope2 egg:

$ cat eggs/Zope2--*/Zope2/utilities/skel/etc/

<rest of the stuff that goes into a zope.conf, e.g. databases and log files.>

An example session:

$ mkdir /path/to/instance
$ cd /path/to/instance
$ mkdir etc logs var
$ wget
$ vi buildout.cfg
$ /path/to/your/python
$ bin/buildout
$ cat eggs/Zope2--*/Zope2/utilities/skel/etc/ > etc/zope.conf
$ vi etc/zope.conf  # replace <<INSTANCE_HOME>> with buildout directory
$ bin/zopectl start

In the bin subdirectory of your instance directory, you will find runzope and zopectl scripts that can be used as normal.

You can use zopectl interactively as a command shell by just calling it without any arguments. Try help there and help <command> to find out about additionally commands of zopectl. These commands also work at the command line.

Note that there are there are recipes such as plone.recipe.zope2instance which can be used to automate this whole process.

After installation, refer to Configuring and Running Zope for documentation on configuring and running Zope.

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