App Engine Fix For – ImportError: cannot import name os_compat

One of the more mysterious errors one gets with App Engine is when the application fails to start up with the following error:

*** Running dev_appserver with the following flags:
--admin_console_server= --port=8080
Python command: /usr/bin/python2.6
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/Applications/
GoogleAppEngine-default.bundle/Contents/Resources/google_appengine/", line 68, in 
run_file(__file__, globals())
File "/Applications/
/", line 64, in run_file
execfile(script_path, globals_)
File "/Applications/
appengine/tools/", line 66, in 
from import os_compat
ImportError: cannot import name os_compat

If you look through the forums there is a lot of talk about Python 2.5 or Python 2.6 and suggestions to go back to Python 2.5 – that seems not to be the problem at all because it fails in 2.5 as well with the same error.

I have carefully reproduced the problem and it is when a non-administrator person tries to run the App Engine Launcher. The fix is to simply make the person an administrative user. And here is the strange thing – once you make the use an “Allow to administer this computer” user and start App Engine once as an the user with admin powers and then log out and take a way admin powers and then log back in – then it works! Crazy.

This problem is generally reported on Mac OS 10.6 versions.

Now after an hour of debugging and researching, I can get back to recording those “introductory – see how easy this to install” videos :)