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Run commands using Python virtual environment

Project description

Doing this…


…is more convenient than this…

source myvenv/bin/activate

That is the main motivation of this tool!

venv-run is a tool for running commands with a Python virtual environment without explicitly activating it (and deactivating it when you are done). Essentially it runs your command with the virtual environment’s binary path prepended to the system’s PATH environment variable. Another nice thing about venv-run is that it tries to find the environment’s directory from your current working directory so you can save some typing.


From source

If you have pip available in your system, then the recommended way to install from source is doing:

# From the source root
pip install .

Alternatively, you can call directly, but remember that it does not provide an “uninstall” command (this form is useful for OS distribution packagers):

python install


venv-run can be called directly as a shell command:

venv-run [OPTIONS] [--] [CMD]

When called, the first thing venv-run does is to look for a (single) virtual environment under your current working directory. After it encounters the environment’s directory, it runs your command with the environment’s binary path prepended to the system’s binary path.

All the examples in this section assume you have a virtual environment created in the working directory.

Running a Python script

Suppose you have a Python project in my-python-project and have created a virtual environment like the example below:

$ cd my-python-project
$ python -m venv myvenv

You can call a Python script of your project using that environment with the command:

$ venv-run

If accepts arguments, you can pass them normally:

$ venv-run --foo --bar baz


Running Python scripts like this is possible because venv-run guesses that you want to run with the environment’s Python interpreter. If has execution permission for your user, then venv-run will not invoke the interpreter for you. You can call venv-run python for such cases.

Calling Python

The virtual environment’s Python interpreter is implicitly called in the following situations:

  • When no command is passed to venv-run;
  • When the first word of CMD is not an executable and either starts with - or ends with .py. In this case, python is prepended to CMD (the example in the previous section falls under this condition).

Thus, for example, you can start an interactive session with the environment’s Python by simply calling:

$ venv-run

And you can call a module installed in the environment with:

$ venv -m

For both cases, it’s also okay to explicitly call the interpreter (e.g. venv-run python -m

Calling executables

If you want to call an executable installed in your virtual environment, you can call it like in the example below:

# Suppose I'm using flask to develop a Web application and want to start
# the development server
$ venv-run flask run

The executable does not need to be really installed in the environment. The next example starts the system’s bash with venv/bin prepended to PATH:

$ venv-run bash

Locally installing and using a Python package

Let’s say you want to use bpython to interactively use and test your project’s modules.

You can install it:

$ venv-run pip install bpython

And the run it at will:

$ venv-run bpython

Multiple virtual environments

venv-run refuses to continue if it finds more than one virtual environment. You can pass --venv PATH_TO_VENV to point the environment to be used for such cases.

Options ambiguity

If CMD uses options conflicting with venv-run’s own options, then you can prepend CMD with -- to mark the beginning of CMD. Example:

$ venv-run python -h # Shows venv-run's help message
$ venv-run -- python -h # Shows python's help message


Gustavo José de Sousa

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