A few days ago I noticed that the “urlgrabber” project now has switched to using pycurl (the python libcurl binding) in their bleeding edge development. It means that projects using that, such well-known apps like yum and anaconda then use libcurl. Already since ages the Suse installer named YaST is using libcurl and a few months ago I learned that the opensolaris package management (pkg) is also switching to become pycurl based.
According to the lead man on the urlgrabber project, Seth Vidal, there are several reasons to switch from Python’s native urllib for (mostly) HTTP transport and he was friendly enough to mention a few to me. Clearly the two primary reasons are FIPS certification and urllib’s lacking HTTP proxy support. The FIPS certification is something the Fedora project has been pushing for a lot during recent time and thus they’ve worked hard on making libcurl support NSS for SSL/TLS, and the lack of HTTP proxy support is supposedly hard to push into urllib itself due to its stagnant development etc.
In Debian-esque worlds, libcurl and curl are already used by the package system in forms of apt-transport-https and apt-file.
It seems that when you run an open source operating system tomorrow, chances are that libcurl is in the back-end of the package system.