What is the most compatible way to install python modules on a Mac?


I'm starting to learn python and loving it. I work on a Mac mainly as well as Linux. I'm finding that on Linux (Ubuntu 9.04 mostly) when I install a python module using apt-get it works fine. I can import it with no trouble.

On the Mac, I'm used to using Macports to install all the Unixy stuff. However, I'm finding that most of the python modules I install with it are not being seen by python. I've spent some time playing around with PATH settings and using python_select . Nothing has really worked and at this point I'm not really understanding, instead I'm just poking around.

I get the impression that Macports isn't universally loved for managing python modules. I'd like to start fresh using a more "accepted" (if that's the right word) approach.

So, I was wondering, what is the method that Mac python developers use to manage their modules?

Bonus questions:

Do you use Apple's python, or some other version? Do you compile everything from source or is there a package manger that works well (Fink?).

8/22/2017 8:10:06 PM

Accepted Answer

The most popular way to manage python packages (if you're not using your system package manager) is to use setuptools and easy_install. It is probably already installed on your system. Use it like this:

easy_install django

easy_install uses the Python Package Index which is an amazing resource for python developers. Have a look around to see what packages are available.

A better option is pip, which is gaining traction, as it attempts to fix a lot of the problems associated with easy_install. Pip uses the same package repository as easy_install, it just works better. Really the only time use need to use easy_install is for this command:

easy_install pip

After that, use:

pip install django

At some point you will probably want to learn a bit about virtualenv. If you do a lot of python development on projects with conflicting package requirements, virtualenv is a godsend. It will allow you to have completely different versions of various packages, and switch between them easily depending your needs.

Regarding which python to use, sticking with Apple's python will give you the least headaches, but If you need a newer version (Leopard is 2.5.1 I believe), I would go with the macports python 2.6.

7/31/2009 7:47:14 PM

Your question is already three years old and there are some details not covered in other answers:

Most people I know use HomeBrew or MacPorts, I prefer MacPorts because of its clean cut of what is a default Mac OS X environment and my development setup. Just move out your /opt folder and test your packages with a normal user Python environment

MacPorts is only portable within Mac, but with easy_install or pip you will learn how to setup your environment in any platform (Win/Mac/Linux/Bsd...). Furthermore it will always be more up to date and with more packages

I personally let MacPorts handle my Python modules to keep everything updated. Like any other high level package manager (ie: apt-get) it is much better for the heavy lifting of modules with lots of binary dependencies. There is no way I would build my Qt bindings (PySide) with easy_install or pip. Qt is huge and takes a lot to compile. As soon as you want a Python package that needs a library used by non Python programs, try to avoid easy_install or pip

At some point you will find that there are some packages missing within MacPorts. I do not believe that MacPorts will ever give you the whole CheeseShop. For example, recently I needed the Elixir module, but MacPorts only offers py25-elixir and py26-elixir, no py27 version. In cases like these you have:

pip-2.7 install --user elixir

( make sure you always type pip-(version) )

That will build an extra Python library in your home dir. Yes, Python will work with more than one library location: one controlled by MacPorts and a user local one for everything missing within MacPorts.

Now notice that I favor pip over easy_install. There is a good reason you should avoid setuptools and easy_install. Here is a good explanation and I try to keep away from them. One very useful feature of pip is giving you a list of all the modules (along their versions) that you installed with MacPorts, easy_install and pip itself:

pip-2.7 freeze

If you already started using easy_install, don't worry, pip can recognize everything done already by easy_install and even upgrade the packages installed with it.

If you are a developer keep an eye on virtualenv for controlling different setups and combinations of module versions. Other answers mention it already, what is not mentioned so far is the Tox module, a tool for testing that your package installs correctly with different Python versions.

Although I usually do not have version conflicts, I like to have virtualenv to set up a clean environment and get a clear view of my packages dependencies. That way I never forget any dependencies in my setup.py

If you go for MacPorts be aware that multiple versions of the same package are not selected anymore like the old Debian style with an extra python_select package (it is still there for compatibility). Now you have the select command to choose which Python version will be used (you can even select the Apple installed ones):

$  port select python
Available versions for python:
    python27 (active)

$ port select python python32

Add tox on top of it and your programs should be really portable

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