New in version 3.3.
Source code: Lib/venv/
venv module provides support for creating lightweight “virtual
environments” with their own site directories, optionally isolated from system
site directories. Each virtual environment has its own Python binary (which
matches the version of the binary that was used to create this environment) and
can have its own independent set of installed Python packages in its site
See PEP 405 for more information about Python virtual environments.
Creating virtual environments¶
Creation of virtual environments is done by executing the
python3 -m venv /path/to/new/virtual/environment
Running this command creates the target directory (creating any parent
directories that don’t exist already) and places a
pyvenv.cfg file in it
home key pointing to the Python installation from which the command
was run (a common name for the target directory is
.venv). It also creates
Scripts on Windows) subdirectory containing a copy/symlink
of the Python binary/binaries (as appropriate for the platform or arguments
used at environment creation time). It also creates an (initially empty)
lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages subdirectory (on Windows, this is
Lib\site-packages). If an existing directory is specified, it will be
Deprecated since version 3.6:
pyvenv was the recommended tool for creating virtual environments for
Python 3.3 and 3.4, and is deprecated in Python 3.6.
Changed in version 3.5: The use of
venv is now recommended for creating virtual environments.
On Windows, invoke the
venv command as follows:
c:\>c:\Python35\python -m venv c:\path\to\myenv
Alternatively, if you configured the
PATHEXT variables for
your Python installation:
c:\>python -m venv c:\path\to\myenv
The command, if run with
-h, will show the available options:
usage: venv [-h] [--system-site-packages] [--symlinks | --copies] [--clear] [--upgrade] [--without-pip] [--prompt PROMPT] ENV_DIR [ENV_DIR ...] Creates virtual Python environments in one or more target directories. positional arguments: ENV_DIR A directory to create the environment in. optional arguments: -h, --help show this help message and exit --system-site-packages Give the virtual environment access to the system site-packages dir. --symlinks Try to use symlinks rather than copies, when symlinks are not the default for the platform. --copies Try to use copies rather than symlinks, even when symlinks are the default for the platform. --clear Delete the contents of the environment directory if it already exists, before environment creation. --upgrade Upgrade the environment directory to use this version of Python, assuming Python has been upgraded in-place. --without-pip Skips installing or upgrading pip in the virtual environment (pip is bootstrapped by default) --prompt PROMPT Provides an alternative prompt prefix for this environment. Once an environment has been created, you may wish to activate it, e.g. by sourcing an activate script in its bin directory.
Changed in version 3.4: Installs pip by default, added the
Changed in version 3.4: In earlier versions, if the target directory already existed, an error was
raised, unless the
--upgrade option was provided.
While symlinks are supported on Windows, they are not recommended. Of
particular note is that double-clicking
python.exe in File Explorer
will resolve the symlink eagerly and ignore the virtual environment.
On Microsoft Windows, it may be required to enable the
script by setting the execution policy for the user. You can do this by
issuing the following PowerShell command:
PS C:> Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned -Scope CurrentUser
See About Execution Policies for more information.
pyvenv.cfg file also includes the
include-system-site-packages key, set to
run with the
--without-pip option is given,
ensurepip will be
invoked to bootstrap
pip into the virtual environment.
Multiple paths can be given to
venv, in which case an identical virtual
environment will be created, according to the given options, at each provided
Once a virtual environment has been created, it can be “activated” using a script in the virtual environment’s binary directory. The invocation of the script is platform-specific (<venv> must be replaced by the path of the directory containing the virtual environment):
Command to activate virtual environment
$ source <venv>/bin/activate
$ . <venv>/bin/activate.fish
$ source <venv>/bin/activate.csh
PS C:\> <venv>\Scripts\Activate.ps1
You don’t specifically need to activate an environment; activation just prepends the virtual environment’s binary directory to your path, so that “python” invokes the virtual environment’s Python interpreter and you can run installed scripts without having to use their full path. However, all scripts installed in a virtual environment should be runnable without activating it, and run with the virtual environment’s Python automatically.
You can deactivate a virtual environment by typing “deactivate” in your shell. The exact mechanism is platform-specific and is an internal implementation detail (typically a script or shell function will be used).
New in version 3.4:
csh activation scripts.
New in version 3.8: PowerShell activation scripts installed under POSIX for PowerShell Core support.
A virtual environment is a Python environment such that the Python interpreter, libraries and scripts installed into it are isolated from those installed in other virtual environments, and (by default) any libraries installed in a “system” Python, i.e., one which is installed as part of your operating system.
A virtual environment is a directory tree which contains Python executable files and other files which indicate that it is a virtual environment.
Common installation tools such as setuptools and pip work as expected with virtual environments. In other words, when a virtual environment is active, they install Python packages into the virtual environment without needing to be told to do so explicitly.
When a virtual environment is active (i.e., the virtual environment’s Python
interpreter is running), the attributes
sys.exec_prefix point to the base directory of the virtual
sys.base_exec_prefix point to the non-virtual environment Python
installation which was used to create the virtual environment. If a virtual
environment is not active, then
sys.prefix is the same as
sys.exec_prefix is the same as
sys.base_exec_prefix (they all point to a non-virtual environment
When a virtual environment is active, any options that change the
installation path will be ignored from all
files to prevent projects being inadvertently installed outside of the
When working in a command shell, users can make a virtual environment active
by running an
activate script in the virtual environment’s executables
directory (the precise filename and command to use the file is
shell-dependent), which prepends the virtual environment’s directory for
executables to the
PATH environment variable for the running shell. There
should be no need in other circumstances to activate a virtual
environment; scripts installed into virtual environments have a “shebang”
line which points to the virtual environment’s Python interpreter. This means
that the script will run with that interpreter regardless of the value of
PATH. On Windows, “shebang” line processing is supported if you have the
Python Launcher for Windows installed (this was added to Python in 3.3 - see
PEP 397 for more details). Thus, double-clicking an installed script in a
Windows Explorer window should run the script with the correct interpreter
without there needing to be any reference to its virtual environment in
The high-level method described above makes use of a simple API which provides
mechanisms for third-party virtual environment creators to customize environment
creation according to their needs, the
EnvBuilder(system_site_packages=False, clear=False, symlinks=False, upgrade=False, with_pip=False, prompt=None)¶
EnvBuilderclass accepts the following keyword arguments on instantiation:
system_site_packages– a Boolean value indicating that the system Python site-packages should be available to the environment (defaults to
clear– a Boolean value which, if true, will delete the contents of any existing target directory, before creating the environment.
symlinks– a Boolean value indicating whether to attempt to symlink the Python binary rather than copying.
upgrade– a Boolean value which, if true, will upgrade an existing environment with the running Python - for use when that Python has been upgraded in-place (defaults to
with_pip– a Boolean value which, if true, ensures pip is installed in the virtual environment. This uses
prompt– a String to be used after virtual environment is activated (defaults to
Nonewhich means directory name of the environment would be used).
Changed in version 3.4: Added the
New in version 3.6: Added the
Creators of third-party virtual environment tools will be free to use the provided
EnvBuilderclass as a base class.
The returned env-builder is an object which has a method,
Create a virtual environment by specifying the target directory (absolute or relative to the current directory) which is to contain the virtual environment. The
createmethod will either create the environment in the specified directory, or raise an appropriate exception.
createmethod of the
EnvBuilderclass illustrates the hooks available for subclass customization:
def create(self, env_dir): """ Create a virtualized Python environment in a directory. env_dir is the target directory to create an environment in. """ env_dir = os.path.abspath(env_dir) context = self.ensure_directories(env_dir) self.create_configuration(context) self.setup_python(context) self.setup_scripts(context) self.post_setup(context)
Creates the environment directory and all necessary directories, and returns a context object. This is just a holder for attributes (such as paths), for use by the other methods. The directories are allowed to exist already, as long as either
upgradewere specified to allow operating on an existing environment directory.
pyvenv.cfgconfiguration file in the environment.
Creates a copy or symlink to the Python executable in the environment. On POSIX systems, if a specific executable
python3.xwas used, symlinks to
python3will be created pointing to that executable, unless files with those names already exist.
Installs activation scripts appropriate to the platform into the virtual environment.
A placeholder method which can be overridden in third party implementations to pre-install packages in the virtual environment or perform other post-creation steps.
Changed in version 3.7.2: Windows now uses redirector scripts for
python[w].exeinstead of copying the actual binaries. In 3.7.2 only
setup_python()does nothing unless running from a build in the source tree.
Changed in version 3.7.3: Windows copies the redirector scripts as part of
setup_scripts(). This was not the case in 3.7.2. When using symlinks, the original executables will be linked.
path is the path to a directory that should contain subdirectories “common”, “posix”, “nt”, each containing scripts destined for the bin directory in the environment. The contents of “common” and the directory corresponding to
os.nameare copied after some text replacement of placeholders:
__VENV_DIR__is replaced with the absolute path of the environment directory.
__VENV_NAME__is replaced with the environment name (final path segment of environment directory).
__VENV_PROMPT__is replaced with the prompt (the environment name surrounded by parentheses and with a following space)
__VENV_BIN_NAME__is replaced with the name of the bin directory (either
__VENV_PYTHON__is replaced with the absolute path of the environment’s executable.
The directories are allowed to exist (for when an existing environment is being upgraded).
There is also a module-level convenience function:
create(env_dir, system_site_packages=False, clear=False, symlinks=False, with_pip=False, prompt=None)¶
New in version 3.3.
Changed in version 3.4: Added the
Changed in version 3.6: Added the
An example of extending
The following script shows how to extend
EnvBuilder by implementing a
subclass which installs setuptools and pip into a created virtual environment:
import os import os.path from subprocess import Popen, PIPE import sys from threading import Thread from urllib.parse import urlparse from urllib.request import urlretrieve import venv class ExtendedEnvBuilder(venv.EnvBuilder): """ This builder installs setuptools and pip so that you can pip or easy_install other packages into the created virtual environment. :param nodist: If true, setuptools and pip are not installed into the created virtual environment. :param nopip: If true, pip is not installed into the created virtual environment. :param progress: If setuptools or pip are installed, the progress of the installation can be monitored by passing a progress callable. If specified, it is called with two arguments: a string indicating some progress, and a context indicating where the string is coming from. The context argument can have one of three values: 'main', indicating that it is called from virtualize() itself, and 'stdout' and 'stderr', which are obtained by reading lines from the output streams of a subprocess which is used to install the app. If a callable is not specified, default progress information is output to sys.stderr. """ def __init__(self, *args, **kwargs): self.nodist = kwargs.pop('nodist', False) self.nopip = kwargs.pop('nopip', False) self.progress = kwargs.pop('progress', None) self.verbose = kwargs.pop('verbose', False) super().__init__(*args, **kwargs) def post_setup(self, context): """ Set up any packages which need to be pre-installed into the virtual environment being created. :param context: The information for the virtual environment creation request being processed. """ os.environ['VIRTUAL_ENV'] = context.env_dir if not self.nodist: self.install_setuptools(context) # Can't install pip without setuptools if not self.nopip and not self.nodist: self.install_pip(context) def reader(self, stream, context): """ Read lines from a subprocess' output stream and either pass to a progress callable (if specified) or write progress information to sys.stderr. """ progress = self.progress while True: s = stream.readline() if not s: break if progress is not None: progress(s, context) else: if not self.verbose: sys.stderr.write('.') else: sys.stderr.write(s.decode('utf-8')) sys.stderr.flush() stream.close() def install_script(self, context, name, url): _, _, path, _, _, _ = urlparse(url) fn = os.path.split(path)[-1] binpath = context.bin_path distpath = os.path.join(binpath, fn) # Download script into the virtual environment's binaries folder urlretrieve(url, distpath) progress = self.progress if self.verbose: term = '\n' else: term = '' if progress is not None: progress('Installing %s ...%s' % (name, term), 'main') else: sys.stderr.write('Installing %s ...%s' % (name, term)) sys.stderr.flush() # Install in the virtual environment args = [context.env_exe, fn] p = Popen(args, stdout=PIPE, stderr=PIPE, cwd=binpath) t1 = Thread(target=self.reader, args=(p.stdout, 'stdout')) t1.start() t2 = Thread(target=self.reader, args=(p.stderr, 'stderr')) t2.start() p.wait() t1.join() t2.join() if progress is not None: progress('done.', 'main') else: sys.stderr.write('done.\n') # Clean up - no longer needed os.unlink(distpath) def install_setuptools(self, context): """ Install setuptools in the virtual environment. :param context: The information for the virtual environment creation request being processed. """ url = 'https://bitbucket.org/pypa/setuptools/downloads/ez_setup.py' self.install_script(context, 'setuptools', url) # clear up the setuptools archive which gets downloaded pred = lambda o: o.startswith('setuptools-') and o.endswith('.tar.gz') files = filter(pred, os.listdir(context.bin_path)) for f in files: f = os.path.join(context.bin_path, f) os.unlink(f) def install_pip(self, context): """ Install pip in the virtual environment. :param context: The information for the virtual environment creation request being processed. """ url = 'https://raw.github.com/pypa/pip/master/contrib/get-pip.py' self.install_script(context, 'pip', url) def main(args=None): compatible = True if sys.version_info < (3, 3): compatible = False elif not hasattr(sys, 'base_prefix'): compatible = False if not compatible: raise ValueError('This script is only for use with ' 'Python 3.3 or later') else: import argparse parser = argparse.ArgumentParser(prog=__name__, description='Creates virtual Python ' 'environments in one or ' 'more target ' 'directories.') parser.add_argument('dirs', metavar='ENV_DIR', nargs='+', help='A directory in which to create the 'virtual environment.') parser.add_argument('--no-setuptools', default=False, action='store_true', dest='nodist', help="Don't install setuptools or pip in the " "virtual environment.") parser.add_argument('--no-pip', default=False, action='store_true', dest='nopip', help="Don't install pip in the virtual " "environment.") parser.add_argument('--system-site-packages', default=False, action='store_true', dest='system_site', help='Give the virtual environment access to the ' 'system site-packages dir.') if os.name == 'nt': use_symlinks = False else: use_symlinks = True parser.add_argument('--symlinks', default=use_symlinks, action='store_true', dest='symlinks', help='Try to use symlinks rather than copies, ' 'when symlinks are not the default for ' 'the platform.') parser.add_argument('--clear', default=False, action='store_true', dest='clear', help='Delete the contents of the ' 'virtual environment ' 'directory if it already ' 'exists, before virtual ' 'environment creation.') parser.add_argument('--upgrade', default=False, action='store_true', dest='upgrade', help='Upgrade the virtual ' 'environment directory to ' 'use this version of ' 'Python, assuming Python ' 'has been upgraded ' 'in-place.') parser.add_argument('--verbose', default=False, action='store_true', dest='verbose', help='Display the output ' 'from the scripts which ' 'install setuptools and pip.') options = parser.parse_args(args) if options.upgrade and options.clear: raise ValueError('you cannot supply --upgrade and --clear together.') builder = ExtendedEnvBuilder(system_site_packages=options.system_site, clear=options.clear, symlinks=options.symlinks, upgrade=options.upgrade, nodist=options.nodist, nopip=options.nopip, verbose=options.verbose) for d in options.dirs: builder.create(d) if __name__ == '__main__': rc = 1 try: main() rc = 0 except Exception as e: print('Error: %s' % e, file=sys.stderr) sys.exit(rc)
This script is also available for download online.