12. Virtual Environments and Packages¶
Python applications will often use packages and modules that don’t come as part of the standard library. Applications will sometimes need a specific version of a library, because the application may require that a particular bug has been fixed or the application may be written using an obsolete version of the library’s interface.
This means it may not be possible for one Python installation to meet the requirements of every application. If application A needs version 1.0 of a particular module but application B needs version 2.0, then the requirements are in conflict and installing either version 1.0 or 2.0 will leave one application unable to run.
The solution for this problem is to create a virtual environment, a self-contained directory tree that contains a Python installation for a particular version of Python, plus a number of additional packages.
Different applications can then use different virtual environments. To resolve the earlier example of conflicting requirements, application A can have its own virtual environment with version 1.0 installed while application B has another virtual environment with version 2.0. If application B requires a library be upgraded to version 3.0, this will not affect application A’s environment.
12.2. Creating Virtual Environments¶
The module used to create and manage virtual environments is called
venv will usually install the most recent version of
Python that you have available. If you have multiple versions of Python on your
system, you can select a specific Python version by running
whichever version you want.
To create a virtual environment, decide upon a directory where you want to
place it, and run the
venv module as a script with the directory path:
python -m venv tutorial-env
This will create the
tutorial-env directory if it doesn’t exist,
and also create directories inside it containing a copy of the Python
interpreter and various supporting files.
A common directory location for a virtual environment is
This name keeps the directory typically hidden in your shell and thus
out of the way while giving it a name that explains why the directory
exists. It also prevents clashing with
.env environment variable
definition files that some tooling supports.
Once you’ve created a virtual environment, you may activate it.
On Windows, run:
On Unix or MacOS, run:
(This script is written for the bash shell. If you use the
csh or fish shells, there are alternate
activate.fish scripts you should use
Activating the virtual environment will change your shell’s prompt to show what
virtual environment you’re using, and modify the environment so that running
python will get you that particular version and installation of Python.
$ source ~/envs/tutorial-env/bin/activate (tutorial-env) $ python Python 3.5.1 (default, May 6 2016, 10:59:36) ... >>> import sys >>> sys.path ['', '/usr/local/lib/python35.zip', ..., '~/envs/tutorial-env/lib/python3.5/site-packages'] >>>
To deactivate a virtual environment, type:
into the terminal.
12.3. Managing Packages with pip¶
You can install, upgrade, and remove packages using a program called
pip. By default
pip will install packages from the Python
Package Index. You can browse the Python
Package Index by going to it in your web browser.
pip has a number of subcommands: “install”, “uninstall”,
“freeze”, etc. (Consult the Installing Python Modules guide for
complete documentation for
You can install the latest version of a package by specifying a package’s name:
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip install novas Collecting novas Downloading novas-220.127.116.11.tar.gz (136kB) Installing collected packages: novas Running setup.py install for novas Successfully installed novas-18.104.22.168
You can also install a specific version of a package by giving the
package name followed by
== and the version number:
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip install requests==2.6.0 Collecting requests==2.6.0 Using cached requests-2.6.0-py2.py3-none-any.whl Installing collected packages: requests Successfully installed requests-2.6.0
If you re-run this command,
pip will notice that the requested
version is already installed and do nothing. You can supply a
different version number to get that version, or you can run
-m pip install --upgrade to upgrade the package to the latest version:
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip install --upgrade requests Collecting requests Installing collected packages: requests Found existing installation: requests 2.6.0 Uninstalling requests-2.6.0: Successfully uninstalled requests-2.6.0 Successfully installed requests-2.7.0
python -m pip uninstall followed by one or more package names will
remove the packages from the virtual environment.
python -m pip show will display information about a particular package:
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip show requests --- Metadata-Version: 2.0 Name: requests Version: 2.7.0 Summary: Python HTTP for Humans. Home-page: http://python-requests.org Author: Kenneth Reitz Author-email: email@example.com License: Apache 2.0 Location: /Users/akuchling/envs/tutorial-env/lib/python3.4/site-packages Requires:
python -m pip list will display all of the packages installed in
the virtual environment:
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip list novas (22.214.171.124) numpy (1.9.2) pip (7.0.3) requests (2.7.0) setuptools (16.0)
python -m pip freeze will produce a similar list of the installed packages,
but the output uses the format that
python -m pip install expects.
A common convention is to put this list in a
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip freeze > requirements.txt (tutorial-env) $ cat requirements.txt novas==126.96.36.199 numpy==1.9.2 requests==2.7.0
requirements.txt can then be committed to version control and
shipped as part of an application. Users can then install all the
necessary packages with
(tutorial-env) $ python -m pip install -r requirements.txt Collecting novas==188.8.131.52 (from -r requirements.txt (line 1)) ... Collecting numpy==1.9.2 (from -r requirements.txt (line 2)) ... Collecting requests==2.7.0 (from -r requirements.txt (line 3)) ... Installing collected packages: novas, numpy, requests Running setup.py install for novas Successfully installed novas-184.108.40.206 numpy-1.9.2 requests-2.7.0
pip has many more options. Consult the Installing Python Modules
guide for complete documentation for
pip. When you’ve written
a package and want to make it available on the Python Package Index,
consult the Distributing Python Modules guide.