1. Nick Coghlan
  2. cpython_sandbox


cpython_sandbox / Doc / using / unix.rst

Using Python on Unix platforms

Getting and installing the latest version of Python

On Linux

Python comes preinstalled on most Linux distributions, and is available as a package on all others. However there are certain features you might want to use that are not available on your distro's package. You can easily compile the latest version of Python from source.

In the event that Python doesn't come preinstalled and isn't in the repositories as well, you can easily make packages for your own distro. Have a look at the following links:

On FreeBSD and OpenBSD

  • FreeBSD users, to add the package use:

    pkg_add -r python
  • OpenBSD users use:

    pkg_add ftp://ftp.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/4.2/packages/<insert your architecture here>/python-<version>.tgz

    For example i386 users get the 2.5.1 version of Python using:

    pkg_add ftp://ftp.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/4.2/packages/i386/python-2.5.1p2.tgz

On OpenSolaris

To install the newest Python versions on OpenSolaris, install blastwave and type pkg_get -i python at the prompt.

Building Python

If you want to compile CPython yourself, first thing you should do is get the source. You can download either the latest release's source or just grab a fresh clone. (If you want to contribute patches, you will need a clone.)

The build process consists in the usual

make install

invocations. Configuration options and caveats for specific Unix platforms are extensively documented in the :source:`README` file in the root of the Python source tree.


make install can overwrite or masquerade the :file:`python3` binary. make altinstall is therefore recommended instead of make install since it only installs :file:`{exec_prefix}/bin/python{version}`.


To easily use Python scripts on Unix, you need to make them executable, e.g. with

$ chmod +x script

and put an appropriate Shebang line at the top of the script. A good choice is usually

#!/usr/bin/env python3

which searches for the Python interpreter in the whole :envvar:`PATH`. However, some Unices may not have the :program:`env` command, so you may need to hardcode /usr/bin/python3 as the interpreter path.

To use shell commands in your Python scripts, look at the :mod:`subprocess` module.


Vim and Emacs are excellent editors which support Python very well. For more information on how to code in Python in these editors, look at:

Geany is an excellent IDE with support for a lot of languages. For more information, read: http://www.geany.org/

Komodo edit is another extremely good IDE. It also has support for a lot of languages. For more information, read: http://www.activestate.com/store/productdetail.aspx?prdGuid=20f4ed15-6684-4118-a78b-d37ff4058c5f