Python 3.9 to become the default on 2021-06-01

Title: Python 3.9 to become the default on 2021-06-01
Author: Michał Górny <>
Posted: 2021-05-05
Revision: 1
News-Item-Format: 2.0
Display-If-Installed: dev-lang/python:3.7
Display-If-Installed: dev-lang/python:3.8

We are planning to switch the default Python target of Gentoo systems
on 2021-06-01, from Python 3.8 to Python 3.9.  If you have not changed
the values of PYTHON_TARGETS or PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET, the change will
have immediate effect on your system and the package manager will try
to switch automatically on the next upgrade following the change.

If you did change the values, prefer a safer approach or have problems
with the update, read on.

Please note that the default upgrade method switches packages to the new
Python versions as they are rebuilt.  This means that all interdependent
packages have to support the new version for the upgrade to proceed,
and that some programs may temporarily fail to find their dependencies
throughout the upgrade (although programs that are already started
are unlikely to be affected).

in make.conf, please remove these declarations as they will interfere
with the package.use samples provided below.  Using make.conf for Python
targets is discouraged as it prevents package defaults from applying
when necessary.  This news item assumes using /etc/portage/package.use
or your package manager's equivalent file for configuration.

At this point, you have a few configuration options to choose from:

1. If you wish Python upgrades to apply automatically, you can remove
   the defaults change, your package manager should handle the upgrade
   automatically.  However, you may still need to run the update
   commands if any problems arise.

2. If you wish to defer the upgrade for the time being, you can
   explicitly set the old values in package.use.

3. If you wish to force the upgrade earlier, you can explicitly set
   the new values and run the upgrade commands.

4. If you wish to use a safer approach (i.e. less likely to temporarily
   break packages during the upgrade), you can perform a multi-step
   upgrade as outlined below.

5. Finally, you can use an arbitrary combination of PYTHON_TARGETS

Deferring the upgrade
To defer the upgrade, explicitly set the old targets:

    */* PYTHON_TARGETS: -* python3_8
    */* PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET: -* python3_8

This will enforce Python 3.8 and block any future updates.  However,
please note that this solution will only be suitable for a few more
months and you will eventually need to perform the migration.

Forcing the upgrade
To force the upgrade earlier, explicitly set Python 3.9 targets:

    */* PYTHON_TARGETS: -* python3_9
    */* PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET: -* python3_9

However, it is important to remember to remove this after the defaults
change, as it will interfere with the automatic switch to the next
Python version in the future.

Safer upgrade procedure
A safer approach is to add Python 3.9 support to your system first,
and only then remove Python 3.8.  However, note that involves two
rebuilds of all the affected packages, so it will take noticeably

First, enable both Python 3.8 and Python 3.9, and then run the upgrade

    */* PYTHON_TARGETS: -* python3_8 python3_9
    */* PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET: -* python3_8

Then switch PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET and run a second batch of upgrades:

    */* PYTHON_TARGETS: -* python3_8 python3_9
    */* PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET: -* python3_9

Finally, switch to the final version and upgrade:

    */* PYTHON_TARGETS: -* python3_9
    */* PYTHON_SINGLE_TARGET: -* python3_9

You may wish to remove the target overrides after the defaults switch.
Alternatively, you can keep them to block the next automatic upgrade
to Python 3.10, and upgrade manually then.

Upgrade commands
The Python 3.8 cleanup requires that Python 3.8 is removed from complete
dependency trees in batch.  If some of the installed packages using
an older Python version are not triaged for the upgrade, the package
manager will throw dependency conflicts.  This makes it important that
the upgrade is carried via a --deep --changed-use @world upgrade,
as well as that any stray packages are removed prior to it, e.g.:

    emerge --depclean
    emerge -1vUD @world
    emerge --depclean