author Mark Goodwin <>
Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:11:48 +0000
changeset 283075 75fe50edcf9aca16125fa9abf8011e6b36ba7634
parent 281563 de1139d08196dff16e5d4394f4825feba873b027
permissions -rw-r--r--
Bug 1244776 - Update moz-kinto-client.js to include recent Kinto.js changes r=rnewman Please see the Kinto.js PR for the storage adapter changes: Additions and changes to the Firefox storage adapter tests have been made accordingly.


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``virtualenv`` is a tool to create isolated Python environments.

The basic problem being addressed is one of dependencies and versions,
and indirectly permissions. Imagine you have an application that
needs version 1 of LibFoo, but another application requires version
2. How can you use both these applications?  If you install
everything into ``/usr/lib/python2.7/site-packages`` (or whatever your
platform's standard location is), it's easy to end up in a situation
where you unintentionally upgrade an application that shouldn't be

Or more generally, what if you want to install an application *and
leave it be*?  If an application works, any change in its libraries or
the versions of those libraries can break the application.

Also, what if you can't install packages into the global
``site-packages`` directory?  For instance, on a shared host.

In all these cases, ``virtualenv`` can help you. It creates an
environment that has its own installation directories, that doesn't
share libraries with other virtualenv environments (and optionally
doesn't access the globally installed libraries either).

.. comment: split here

.. toctree::
   :maxdepth: 2


.. warning::

   Python bugfix releases 2.6.8, 2.7.3, 3.1.5 and 3.2.3 include a change that
   will cause "import random" to fail with "cannot import name urandom" on any
   virtualenv created on a Unix host with an earlier release of Python
   2.6/2.7/3.1/3.2, if the underlying system Python is upgraded. This is due to
   the fact that a virtualenv uses the system Python's standard library but
   contains its own copy of the Python interpreter, so an upgrade to the system
   Python results in a mismatch between the version of the Python interpreter
   and the version of the standard library. It can be fixed by removing
   ``$ENV/bin/python`` and re-running virtualenv on the same target directory
   with the upgraded Python.

Other Documentation and Links

* `Blog announcement of virtualenv`__.

  .. __:

* James Gardner has written a tutorial on using `virtualenv with

* Chris Perkins created a `showmedo video including virtualenv

* Doug Hellmann's `virtualenvwrapper`_ is a useful set of scripts to make
  your workflow with many virtualenvs even easier. `His initial blog post on it`__.
  He also wrote `an example of using virtualenv to try IPython`__.

  .. _virtualenvwrapper:
  .. __:
  .. __:

* `Pew`_ is another wrapper for virtualenv that makes use of a different
  activation technique.

  .. _Pew:

* `Using virtualenv with mod_wsgi

* `virtualenv commands
  <>`_ for some more
  workflow-related tools around virtualenv.

* PyCon US 2011 talk: `Reverse-engineering Ian Bicking's brain: inside pip and virtualenv
  By the end of the talk, you'll have a good idea exactly how pip
  and virtualenv do their magic, and where to go looking in the source
  for particular behaviors or bug fixes.

Compare & Contrast with Alternatives

There are several alternatives that create isolated environments:

* ``workingenv`` (which I do not suggest you use anymore) is the
  predecessor to this library. It used the main Python interpreter,
  but relied on setting ``$PYTHONPATH`` to activate the environment.
  This causes problems when running Python scripts that aren't part of
  the environment (e.g., a globally installed ``hg`` or ``bzr``). It
  also conflicted a lot with Setuptools.

* `virtual-python
  is also a predecessor to this library. It uses only symlinks, so it
  couldn't work on Windows. It also symlinks over the *entire*
  standard library and global ``site-packages``. As a result, it
  won't see new additions to the global ``site-packages``.

  This script only symlinks a small portion of the standard library
  into the environment, and so on Windows it is feasible to simply
  copy these files over. Also, it creates a new/empty
  ``site-packages`` and also adds the global ``site-packages`` to the
  path, so updates are tracked separately. This script also installs
  Setuptools automatically, saving a step and avoiding the need for
  network access.

* `zc.buildout <>`_ doesn't
  create an isolated Python environment in the same style, but
  achieves similar results through a declarative config file that sets
  up scripts with very particular packages. As a declarative system,
  it is somewhat easier to repeat and manage, but more difficult to
  experiment with. ``zc.buildout`` includes the ability to setup
  non-Python systems (e.g., a database server or an Apache instance).

I *strongly* recommend anyone doing application development or
deployment use one of these tools.