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Deployment options

Single user

Main Thonny+Python bundles are designed to be installed by the end user. Therefore Windows installer does not require admin privileges and installs under %LOCALAPPDATA%\Programs\Thonny by default. Since version 2.1.21 the installer has also all-users mode -- for this you just need to run it as administrator (Right-click and "Run as administrator").

Independently of Thonny main files' location, on first run it creates a directory named .thonny in user home directory, which is used for storing user configuration, plug-ins and 3rd party packages the user has installed. For organizing the 3rd party packages Thonny generates a virtual environment there.

With such scheme the user can easily update the main program without losing the customizations.


If the computer lab supports persistent user profiles and users' disk quota is big enough, then the single user deployment scheme is suitable also in classroom setting. (Depending on your lab set-up you may want to recommend students to install into ...\AppData\Roaming\... instead of ...\AppData\Local\....)

If you can't use persistent profiles, then you can preinstall Thonny either locally or to a network drive. In Windows you can use Thonny installer, but note that it does not request admin privileges even if you enter a restricted target directory. Alternatively you can install Thonny under your own profile and then copy its program folder (by default C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Programs\Thonny) into a shared location. In both cases you probably also want to create the shortcuts for all users.

Even if the main program is installed centrally, by default Thonny still creates a virtual environment under user home (if it doesn't exist yet). If you want to avoid this, then you can configure Thonny to use the front-end interpreter (ie. the same Python executable it uses for running the GUI) also for the back-end (ie. for running user programs).

You could pre-configure Thonny for all users by arranging a suitable configuration.ini in their Thonny user directory. Since version 2.1.10 you can do it by letting Thonny know how to initialize that directory. For this you should create a directory named user_dir_template under thonny-package (eg. P:\ClassroomNetworkPrograms\Thonny\Lib\site-packages\thonny\user_dir_template).

If you want students' programs to use front-end interpreter, you could put a configuration.ini under user_dir_template, which looks something like this:

backend_configuration = Python (N:\ClassroomNetworkPrograms\Thonny\python.exe)

Since version 2.1.12 it's better to use a special macro same as front-end:

backend_configuration = Python (same as front-end)

Don't forget that you can also use a separate Python installation for the backend:

backend_configuration = Python (C:\Python36\python.exe)

Preparing shared 3rd party packages and plug-ins

You can arrange your shared Thonny so that the students can start off with same set of 3rd party packages.

If you want your students to use their own virtual environments (ie. you are using the default back-end), then you should use the regular tools ("Tools => Manage packages ..." and "Tools => Manage plug-ins...") to prepare a suitable .thonny directory in your computer and then copy its content into shared user_dir_template (see previous section). NB! Check the home variable in .thonny\BundledPython36\pyvenv.cfg to make sure students can access Thonny directory with the same path!

If you have configured Thonny to use the main interpreter also for the back-end process, then you should pip-install the required packages and plug-ins directly into base site-packages. The easiest way for this is to open Thonny with sufficient privileges, select "Tools => Open system shell..." and use command-line pip.

Changing the location of user directory

Regardless of your deployment scheme, you may want to override the path of Thonny user directory (%USERPROFILE%\Thonny / ~/.thonny by default). This can be done with THONNY_USER_DIR environment variable. You could create a launch script which sets this variable and then runs Thonny, or you can read further ...

Since version 2.1.10 Thonny looks for a script named under thonny package (eg. C:\Users\Aivar\AppData\Local\Programs\Thonny\Lib\site-packages\thonny). If present this is run as first step of launching.

You can use this to prepare the environment for Thonny, eg:

For Thonny 2.1:

import thonny
thonny.THONNY_USER_DIR = "H:\\home\\.thonny"

For Thonny 2.2 and newer:

import os
os.environ["THONNY_USER_DIR"] = "H:\\home\\.thonny"

Upgrading shared Thonny

Nothing special here, just replace Thonny program files. Just be careful not to lose your customizations ( and/or user_dir_template).

With micro updates (eg. 2.1.12 => 2.1.14) you should be able to just copy the new files over older ones. With minor and major updates (eg. 2.1.12 => 2.2.0 or 2.1.12 => 3.0) it's safer to discard the old Thonny directory and prepare new from scratch.

Creating a portable version of Thonny

You can use the information from previous sections to prepare yourself a portable, USB-stick-ready Thonny.

  1. Make THONNY_USER_DIR relative to the main Thonny directory. Following should do:

For Thonny 2.1:

import os.path

user_dir = os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), "..", "..", "..", ".thonny")
os.environ["THONNY_USER_DIR"] = os.path.abspath(user_dir)

For Thonny 2.2 and newer:

import os.path
import thonny

user_dir = os.path.join(os.path.dirname(__file__), "..", "..", "..", ".thonny")
thonny.THONNY_USER_DIR = os.path.abspath(user_dir)
  1. Configure Thonny to use front-end interpreter also for the back-end by putting following configuration.ini into .thonny (requires version 2.1.12 or later):
backend_configuration = Python (same as front-end)

(The second step is necessary, because the default virtual environment would be connected to base Python via an absolute path)

Windows installer options

As mentioned above, Thonny Windows installer behaves differently, depending on whether it was run as administrator or not.

If you want to script your installation, then you can use command line options described here:

pip-installing Thonny to an existing Python

See here.