15.15. platform — Access to underlying platform’s identifying data

New in version 2.3.

Source code: Lib/platform.py


Specific platforms listed alphabetically, with Linux included in the Unix section.

15.15.1. Cross Platform

platform.architecture(executable=sys.executable, bits='', linkage='')

Queries the given executable (defaults to the Python interpreter binary) for various architecture information.

Returns a tuple (bits, linkage) which contain information about the bit architecture and the linkage format used for the executable. Both values are returned as strings.

Values that cannot be determined are returned as given by the parameter presets. If bits is given as '', the sizeof(pointer)() (or sizeof(long)() on Python version < 1.5.2) is used as indicator for the supported pointer size.

The function relies on the system’s file command to do the actual work. This is available on most if not all Unix platforms and some non-Unix platforms and then only if the executable points to the Python interpreter. Reasonable defaults are used when the above needs are not met.


On Mac OS X (and perhaps other platforms), executable files may be universal files containing multiple architectures.

To get at the “64-bitness” of the current interpreter, it is more reliable to query the sys.maxsize attribute:

is_64bits = sys.maxsize > 2**32

Returns the machine type, e.g. 'i386'. An empty string is returned if the value cannot be determined.


Returns the computer’s network name (may not be fully qualified!). An empty string is returned if the value cannot be determined.

platform.platform(aliased=0, terse=0)

Returns a single string identifying the underlying platform with as much useful information as possible.

The output is intended to be human readable rather than machine parseable. It may look different on different platforms and this is intended.

If aliased is true, the function will use aliases for various platforms that report system names which differ from their common names, for example SunOS will be reported as Solaris. The system_alias() function is used to implement this.

Setting terse to true causes the function to return only the absolute minimum information needed to identify the platform.


Returns the (real) processor name, e.g. 'amdk6'.

An empty string is returned if the value cannot be determined. Note that many platforms do not provide this information or simply return the same value as for machine(). NetBSD does this.


Returns a tuple (buildno, builddate) stating the Python build number and date as strings.


Returns a string identifying the compiler used for compiling Python.


Returns a string identifying the Python implementation SCM branch.

New in version 2.6.


Returns a string identifying the Python implementation. Possible return values are: ‘CPython’, ‘IronPython’, ‘Jython’, ‘PyPy’.

New in version 2.6.


Returns a string identifying the Python implementation SCM revision.

New in version 2.6.


Returns the Python version as string 'major.minor.patchlevel'

Note that unlike the Python sys.version, the returned value will always include the patchlevel (it defaults to 0).


Returns the Python version as tuple (major, minor, patchlevel) of strings.

Note that unlike the Python sys.version, the returned value will always include the patchlevel (it defaults to '0').


Returns the system’s release, e.g. '2.2.0' or 'NT' An empty string is returned if the value cannot be determined.


Returns the system/OS name, e.g. 'Linux', 'Windows', or 'Java'. An empty string is returned if the value cannot be determined.

platform.system_alias(system, release, version)

Returns (system, release, version) aliased to common marketing names used for some systems. It also does some reordering of the information in some cases where it would otherwise cause confusion.


Returns the system’s release version, e.g. '#3 on degas'. An empty string is returned if the value cannot be determined.


Fairly portable uname interface. Returns a tuple of strings (system, node, release, version, machine, processor) identifying the underlying platform.

Note that unlike the os.uname() function this also returns possible processor information as additional tuple entry.

Entries which cannot be determined are set to ''.

15.15.2. Java Platform

platform.java_ver(release='', vendor='', vminfo=('', '', ''), osinfo=('', '', ''))

Version interface for Jython.

Returns a tuple (release, vendor, vminfo, osinfo) with vminfo being a tuple (vm_name, vm_release, vm_vendor) and osinfo being a tuple (os_name, os_version, os_arch). Values which cannot be determined are set to the defaults given as parameters (which all default to '').

15.15.3. Windows Platform

platform.win32_ver(release='', version='', csd='', ptype='')

Get additional version information from the Windows Registry and return a tuple (release, version, csd, ptype) referring to OS release, version number, CSD level (service pack) and OS type (multi/single processor).

As a hint: ptype is 'Uniprocessor Free' on single processor NT machines and 'Multiprocessor Free' on multi processor machines. The ‘Free’ refers to the OS version being free of debugging code. It could also state ‘Checked’ which means the OS version uses debugging code, i.e. code that checks arguments, ranges, etc.


This function works best with Mark Hammond’s win32all package installed, but also on Python 2.3 and later (support for this was added in Python 2.6). It obviously only runs on Win32 compatible platforms. Win95/98 specific

platform.popen(cmd, mode='r', bufsize=None)

Portable popen() interface. Find a working popen implementation preferring win32pipe.popen(). On Windows NT, win32pipe.popen() should work; on Windows 9x it hangs due to bugs in the MS C library.

15.15.4. Mac OS Platform

platform.mac_ver(release='', versioninfo=('', '', ''), machine='')

Get Mac OS version information and return it as tuple (release, versioninfo, machine) with versioninfo being a tuple (version, dev_stage, non_release_version).

Entries which cannot be determined are set to ''. All tuple entries are strings.

15.15.5. Unix Platforms

platform.dist(distname='', version='', id='', supported_dists=('SuSE', 'debian', 'redhat', 'mandrake', ...))

This is an old version of the functionality now provided by linux_distribution(). For new code, please use the linux_distribution().

The only difference between the two is that dist() always returns the short name of the distribution taken from the supported_dists parameter.

Deprecated since version 2.6.

platform.linux_distribution(distname='', version='', id='', supported_dists=('SuSE', 'debian', 'redhat', 'mandrake', ...), full_distribution_name=1)

Tries to determine the name of the Linux OS distribution name.

supported_dists may be given to define the set of Linux distributions to look for. It defaults to a list of currently supported Linux distributions identified by their release file name.

If full_distribution_name is true (default), the full distribution read from the OS is returned. Otherwise the short name taken from supported_dists is used.

Returns a tuple (distname,version,id) which defaults to the args given as parameters. id is the item in parentheses after the version number. It is usually the version codename.

New in version 2.6.

platform.libc_ver(executable=sys.executable, lib='', version='', chunksize=2048)

Tries to determine the libc version against which the file executable (defaults to the Python interpreter) is linked. Returns a tuple of strings (lib, version) which default to the given parameters in case the lookup fails.

Note that this function has intimate knowledge of how different libc versions add symbols to the executable is probably only usable for executables compiled using gcc.

The file is read and scanned in chunks of chunksize bytes.