Installing Python on Linux

The latest versions of Ubuntu and Fedora come with Python 2.7 out of the box.

The latest versions of Redhat Enterprise (RHEL) and CentOS come with Python 2.6. Some older versions of RHEL and CentOS come with Python 2.4 which is unacceptable for modern Python development. Fortunately, there are Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux which include high quality additional packages based on their Fedora counterparts. This repository contains a Python 2.6 package specifically designed to install side-by-side with the system’s Python 2.4 installation.

You do not need to install or configure anything else to use Python. Having said that, I would strongly recommend that you install the tools and libraries described in the next section before you start building Python applications for real-world use. In particular, you should always install Setuptools, as it makes it much easier for you to use other third-party Python libraries.

Setuptools & Pip

The most crucial third-party Python software of all is Setuptools, which extends the packaging and installation facilities provided by the distutils in the standard library. Once you add Setuptools to your Python system you can download and install any compliant Python software product with a single command. It also enables you to add this network installation capability to your own Python software with very little work.

To obtain the latest version of Setuptools for Linux, refer to the documentation available here: unix-setuptools

The new easy_install command you have available is considered by many to be deprecated, so we will install its replacement: pip. Pip allows for uninstallation of packages, and is actively maintained, unlike easy_install.

To install pip, simply open a command prompt and run

$ easy_install pip

Virtualenv

After Setuptools & Pip, the next development tool that you should install is virtualenv. Use pip

$ pip install virtualenv

The virtualenv kit provides the ability to create virtual Python environments that do not interfere with either each other, or the main Python installation. If you install virtualenv before you begin coding then you can get into the habit of using it to create completely clean Python environments for each project. This is particularly important for Web development, where each framework and application will have many dependencies.

To set up a new Python environment, change the working directory to where ever you want to store the environment, and run the virtualenv utility in your project’s directory

$ virtualenv venv

To use an environment, run source venv/bin/activate. Your command prompt will change to show the active environment. Once you have finished working in the current virtual environment, run deactivate to restore your settings to normal.

Each new environment automatically includes a copy of pip, so that you can setup the third-party libraries and tools that you want to use in that environment. Put your own code within a subdirectory of the environment, however you wish. When you no longer need a particular environment, simply copy your code out of it, and then delete the main directory for the environment.


This page is a remixed version of another guide, which is available under the same license.

Python Guide.

This opinionated guide exists to provide both novice and expert Python developers a best-practice handbook to the installation, configuration, and usage of Python on a daily basis.

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