All the python environment setup you need (probably)


Edit (2022): I spent some time with Poetry, and would now recommend that for larger or long-lived projects.

Python environments are tricky, but they don’t need to be so tricky. Here is all the setup you need for many projects.

python3 -m venv .venv
source .venv/bin/activate

This will create a virtual environment called .venv (I say “vee-env”) in the directory in which it is run. It is a good idea to localize environments to projects, but you should not commit the venv folder to git (it will grow large).

Unfortunately, even with a venv, python dependency management is still a bit cumbersome. You can keep dependencies in a requirements.txt file, but doing so requires that you curate that file. If you need something to be reproducible quickly, simply dumping it with

pip freeze > requirements.txt

works, but will give you an unnecessarily large list. Much better is to manually list what you install by adding it with version number to a requirements file, so that your file looks something like this:


If you do use venvs as suggested above, I strongly recommend including something like this little snippet of Ines Montani’s in your .bashrc/ .zshrc / .shell-of-your-choice-rc:

function venv {
    if [ ! -d ".venv" ]; then
        python3 -m venv .venv
        echo -e "✔ Created virtualenv .env"
    source .venv/bin/activate
    export PYTHONPATH=`pwd`
    echo -e "✔ Activated virtualenv .env"

alias venv="venv"

With that snippet, you can create (if none exists) or activate (if one already exists) a venv in whatever directory you are in with just the venv command.

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