Python Version and Dependency Management

Python Version and Dependency Management

Apr 12, 2020
Last modified: Aug 23, 2020

This is yet another post regarding how to handle your Python working environment, or about the way I have been handling it for the past 5 years. There are probably other all-in-one solutions out there but I think on the long run, I find this setup simpler to scale and maintain.

Installing Python the right way

If you are running linux or macos, you probably already have a system Python. You should forget using that as soon as you format your pc. The right way to manage your Python installation is to use pyenv:

git clone ~/.pyenv

This will clone pyenv repository in your home folder. We will then add some environment variables to be able to work with pyenv cli. The following commands are from pyenv readme for Ubuntu.

echo 'export PYENV_ROOT="$HOME/.pyenv"' >> ~/.bashrc
echo 'export PATH="$PYENV_ROOT/shims:$PYENV_ROOT/bin:$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
echo 'export PIPENV_PYTHON="$PYENV_ROOT/shims/python"' >> ~/.bashrc
echo -e 'if command -v pyenv 1>/dev/null 2>&1; then\n  eval "$(pyenv init -)"\nfi' >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Now you should be able to use pyenv command on terminal. List your installed Python versions:

pyenv versions

And listing installable Python versions are:

pyenv install --list

Before installing Python, check out common build problems: For Ubuntu, these are Python dependencies recommended to install:

sudo apt-get install -y \
make \
build-essential \
libssl-dev \
zlib1g-dev \
libbz2-dev \
libreadline-dev \
libsqlite3-dev \
wget \
curl \
llvm \
libncurses5-dev \
libncursesw5-dev \
xz-utils \
tk-dev \
libffi-dev \
liblzma-dev \
python-openssl \

Let’s install Python 3.8.2 by:

pyenv install 3.8.2

And set it as global Python with

pyenv global 3.8.2

Now we are able to use 3.8.2 as:

python --version

Of course you can install as many Python versions as you want, and enable them globally or locally in particular folders. You can find more details in pyenv docs.

Managing Python Packages

The sane way to manage your project dependencies is to use pipenv. This is a tool that combines pip and virtualenv benefits.

sudo apt-get install -y python3-pip
pip3 install pipenv

Now in a project folder, run pipenv:

PIPENV_VENV_IN_PROJECT=1 pipenv run python

Pipenv is integrated with pyenv and by default will use your global python 3.8.2 to create a virtual environment (a folder named .venv is created) for your project. It will also create a toml formatted file named Pipfile which will contain details about your Python environment. Now we will add a new package dependency by:

pipenv install requests

This will install requests package in your project environment, and add it to your Pipfile. It will also create a Pipfile.lock json formatted file, which will fix the version of all the dependencies of your project as well as file hashes for security reasons. This lock file can be reused when deploying this environment elsewhere to ensure both environments end up installing exactly same packages with correct versions and hashes.

This is how Pipfile is updated after installing requests.

name = "pypi"
url = ""
verify_ssl = true


requests = "*"

python_version = "3.8"

Now let’s change Pipfile manually and limit requests version to <2.23.0.

name = "pypi"
url = ""
verify_ssl = true


requests = "<2.23.0"

python_version = "3.8"

To manually trigger updating the lock file, we can run:

pipenv lock

Lock will fix requests package to version "==2.22.0". We can sync installed packages by:

pipenv install

Or we could run pipenv update that does update the lock file and then installs missing packages to your environment. To use this environment, always run python with

pipenv run python

Check installed packages in your environment:

pipenv graph

It will print the following output, which is from pipdeptree package actually:

  - certifi [required: >=2017.4.17, installed: 2020.4.5.1]
  - chardet [required: >=3.0.2,<3.1.0, installed: 3.0.4]
  - idna [required: >=2.5,<2.9, installed: 2.8]
  - urllib3 [required: >=1.21.1,<1.26,!=1.25.1,!=1.25.0, installed: 1.25.9]

If you have development dependencies such as pytest, you can add them under dev-packages.

pipenv install pytest --dev

When deploying your environment, you should add Pipfile and Pipfile.lock files within your project.

pipenv install --dev --deploy

--deploy argument will make install command fail if the Pipfile.lock is out-of-date, or Python version is wrong.

If you would like your environment to be install on system-wide, you can add --system argument to install command as well.

You can also spawn a new shell with this environment activated by pyenv shell. More details can be found by running just pipenv.

Now you can work on bunch of independent projects with their unique working environment and project specific dependencies.