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This document contains frequently asked questions (and answers) regarding ActivePython. More FAQs are available at community.activestate.com. Please send suggestions for new FAQ entries to `activepython-feedback`_.
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There are many Python distributions for Mac OS X: Apple's system Python installation, MacPython, Python from the Fink and Darwin ports projects and ActivePython. In general, ActivePython can co-exist with these other Python installations. However, there are some things of which to be aware.
1. Only one python can be first on your PATH environment variable at the same time. This determines what Python is run when you type python at the terminal. Likewise for pythonw. ActivePython on Mac OS X sets up symlinks for python, pythonw, and versioned ones (e.g. python2.4 and pythonw2.4) in /usr/local/bin. You can ensure that ActivePython is first on your PATH in the terminal by including the following in your ~/.bashrc file (if you use Bash as your shell, the default on Mac OS X 10.3 and later):
or the following in your ~/csh.cshrc (if you use the tcsh shell):
setenv PATH /usr/local/bin:$PATH
Note that this will only effect your PATH in the shell. To change your system path (e.g. if you need you environment changes to exist for GUI apps) you must modify your ~/.MacOSX/environment.plist file. See Apple's Technical Q&A QA1067 document for details.
2. Both ActivePython and MacPython install to the same location on disk (/Library/Frameworks/Python.framework/... with some links in /usr/local/bin), therefore ActivePython and MacPython installations of the same versions can collide. The ActivePython installer will properly install over a MacPython installation of the same version. However it is recommended that you first uninstall MacPython 3.4 before installing ActivePython 3.4.
On Mac OS X, ActivePython registers its documentation set with the Apple Help System. You can open the ActivePython help in "Help Viewer" as follows:
ActivePython's help documentation is physically located in:
with a shorter symlink to that directory at:
If "ActivePython 3.4 Help" does not appear in the Help Viewer's "Library" menu, this means that the ActivePython help book has not been registered. You may need to log out and log back in. You can always view the ActivePython documentation in your browser (instead of in Help Viewer) by browsing to index.html in the mentioned folders or by running a command like the following:
Beginning 18.104.22.168, 2.7, 22.214.171.124 and 3.2, ActivePython for Mac is built with 2-way architecture: i386 and x86_64. By default, if your processor architecture supports it, Python will run in 64-bit mode. To launch the interpreter in 32-bit mode, run:
$ arch -i386 python
Python 2.6 and 3.1 do not support architecture selection via the arch command on OSX 10.6. For this reason, architecture-specific binaries are provided:
$ python3.1-32 $ python2.6-32
See also: PyPM Index FAQ
While you can install most packages registered in PyPI using the PyPM client, some packages may not yet be available in the ActiveState repository. You can either download these package manually and build them yourself or, if the package is registered in PyPI, try using pip (pip is included in ActivePython)
$ pip install twisted
By default, PyPM installs packages in to the user site directory, which - according to PEP 370 - is the same for 32-bit and 64-bit Python. Therefore it is not recommended to mix 32-bit and 64-bit packages. To workaround this limitation, always install packages into your global ActivePython installation; this can be done using the -g option, for example:
$ pypm -g install pycrpto