Python virtualenvpython 08/11/2015

Use virtualenv to create isolated Python environments


Example 1. - Create virtual environment on Linux/Unix:

pip install virtualenv
cd /path/to/project
mkdir .venv
virtualenv -p /usr/bin/python2.7 .venv
source .venv/bin/activate
#install packages, compile project, etc.

Example 2. - Create virtual environment on Windows:

pip install virtualenv
cd C:\path\to\project
mkdir .venv
virtualenv -p C:\\Python27\\python.exe .venv
REM install packages, compile project, etc.
REM close command prompt


One of Python's powers is how easy it is to create and use modules and packages to extend the built-in functionality. By default all packages are installed in a global repository and are available to all projects that may need them.

This is very convenient until you need to use different versions of the same package in separate projects. That is why it is common convention to use the virtualenv tool when using python packages.

virtualenv is a tool for creating of isolated Python environments. Such virtual environments contain all package dependencies of a project and thus helps to avoid conflicts in package version requirements across multiple Python projects.

Using virtualenv includes three steps:

  1. Install virtualenv package.
  2. Create an empty folder .venv (you can choose an arbitrary name).
  3. Create a virtual ennvironment with virtualenv command.
  4. Activate virtual ennvironment with activate script.
  5. Do actual work on your project - eg. install packages with pip install, edit sources, compile project.
  6. Deactivate virtual ennvironment with deactivate script or just close the terminal/console.

Deactivation cleans up the temporary environment variables and is is required only if you intend to use the same terminal/console to work on another project. Usually it is enough to just close the terminal/console window.