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Installer for Python packages

Project description

NOTE: pyinstall has been renamed to pip: please see or


pyinstall is a replacement for easy_install. It uses mostly the same techniques for finding packages, so packages that were made easy_installable should be pyinstallable as well.

pyinstall is meant to improve on easy_install. Some of the improvements:

  • All packages are downloaded before installation. Partially-completed installation doesn’t occur as a result.

  • Care is taken to present useful output on the console.

  • The reasons for actions are kept track of. For instance, if a package is being installed, pyinstall keeps track of why that package was required.

  • Error messages should be useful.

  • The code is relatively concise and cohesive, making it easier to use programmatically.

  • Packages don’t have to be installed as egg archives, they can be installed flat (while keeping the egg metadata).

  • Maybe features like native support for other version control systems, or uninstallation, will get added. (They might get added to easy_install, but I think the chance for pyinstall is higher.)

Also, pyinstall will eventually be merged directly with poacheggs, making it simple to define fixed sets of requirements and reliably reproduce a set of packages.

pyinstall is complementary with virtualenv, and it is encouraged that you use virtualenv to isolate your installation.


The homepage for pyinstall is temporarily located on PyPI – a more proper homepage will follow. Bugs can go on the poacheggs Trac instance (probably that will change too). Discussion should happen on the virtualenv email group.

Differences From easy_install

pyinstall cannot install some packages. Specifically:

  • It cannot install from eggs. It only installs from source. (Maybe this will be changed sometime, but it’s low priority.)

  • It doesn’t understand Setuptools extras (like package[test]). This should be added eventually.

  • It is incompatible with some packages that customize distutils or setuptools in their files.

  • Maybe it doesn’t work on Windows. At least, the author doesn’t test on Windows often.

  • It also has some extra features. Extra features the author thinks are great.

Requirements Files

When installing software, and Python packages in particular, it’s common that you get a lot of libraries installed. You just did easy_install MyPackage and you get a dozen packages. Each of these packages has its own version.

Maybe you ran that installation and it works. Great! Will it keep working? Did you have to provide special options to get it to find everything? Did you have to install a bunch of other optional pieces? Most of all, will you be able to do it again?

If you’ve ever tried to setup an application on a new system, or with slightly updated pieces, and had it fail, pyinstall requirements are for you. If you haven’t had this problem then you will eventually, so pyinstall requirements are for you too – requirements make explicit, repeatable installation of packages.

So what are requirements files? They are very simple: lists of packages to install. Instead of running something like pyinstall MyApp and getting whatever libraries come along, you can create a requirements file something like:


Then, regardless of what MyApp lists in, you’ll get a specific version of Framework and at least the 0.2 version of Library. (You might think you could list these specific versions in – try it and you’ll quickly see why that doesn’t work.) You can add optional libraries and support tools that MyApp doesn’t strictly require.

You can also include “editable” packages – packages that are checked out from subversion (in the future other VCS will be supported). These are just like using the -e option to pyinstall. They look like:

-e svn+http://myrepo/svn/MyApp#egg=MyApp

You have to start the URL with svn+ (eventually you’ll be able to use hg+ etc), and you have to include #egg=Package so pyinstall knows what to expect at that URL. You can also include @rev in the URL, e.g., @275 to check out revision 275.

Freezing Requirements

So you have a working set of packages, and you want to be able to install them elsewhere. Requirements files let you install exact versions, but it won’t tell you what all the exact versions are.

To create a new requirements file from a known working environment, use:

$ --freeze=stable-req.txt

This will write a listing of all installed libraries to stable-req.txt with exact versions for every library. You may want to edit the file down after generating (e.g., to eliminate unnecessary libraries), but it’ll give you a stable starting point for constructing your requirements file.

You can also give it an existing requirements file, and it will use that as a sort of template for the new file. So if you do:

$ --freeze=stable-req.txt -r devel-req.txt

it will keep the packages listed in devel-req.txt in order and preserve comments.


Another way to distribute a set of libraries is a bundle format (specific to pyinstall). This format is not stable at this time (there simply hasn’t been any feedback, nor a great deal of thought). A bundle file contains all the source for your package, and you can have pyinstall install then all together. Once you have the bundle file further network access won’t be necessary. To build a bundle file, do:

$ --bundle=MyApp.pybundle MyApp

(Using a requirements file would be wise.) Then someone else can get the file MyApp.pybundle and run:

$ MyApp.pybundle

This is not a binary format. This only packages source. If you have binary packages, then the person who installs the files will have to have a compiler, any necessary headers installed, etc. Binary packages are hard, this is relatively easy.

Using pyinstall With virtualenv

pyinstall is most nutritious when used with virtualenv. One of the reasons pyinstall doesn’t install “multi-version” eggs is that virtualenv removes much of the need for it.

pyinstall does not have to be installed to use it, you can run python and it will work. This is intended to avoid the bootstrapping problem of installation. You can also run pyinstall inside any virtualenv environment, like:

$ virtualenv new-env/
... creates new-env/ ...
$ -E new-env/ MyPackage

This is exactly equivalent to:

$ ./new-env/bin/python MyPackage

Except, if you have virtualenv installed and the path new-env/ doesn’t exist, then a new virtualenv will be created.

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