08 October 2016

How to bootstrap Python VirtualEnvs with a specific Python version

This shows how to create a "bootstrap" VirtualEnv, which will allow the creation of (mostly) self-contained VirtualEnvs that are used for projects.
  1. Install OS dependencies like libsqlite3-dev
  2. Build Python from source:
    1. Download from https://www.python.org/download/releases
    2. Extract tarball
    3. cd into directory
    4. Run "./configure --prefix=/opt/python3"
    5. Run "make"
    6. Run "sudo make install"
  3. Manually grab the latest virtualenv module to avoid dependency problems with the existing Python installation:
    1. Download virtualenv-X.Y.Z.tar.gz from https://pypi.python.org/pypi/virtualenv#downloads
    2. Extract into /opt/virtualenv-X.Y.Z
  4. Create and configure the "bootstrap" VirtualEnv:
    1. E.g. run "/opt/virtualenv-15.0.3/virtualenv.py -p /opt/python3/bin/python3 lib/py3venv"
    2. Run "lib/py3venv/bin/pip install virtualenv"
Now, whenever you need to create a self-contained VirtualEnv for a project, run this command, substituting the placeholder for the desired output directory:
lib/py3venv/bin/virtualenv env_dir
The VirtualEnv directory that is created will contain its own Python executable, but will rely on the global packages in /opt/python3.

See The "Virtual Environments and Packages" section of the Python tutorial for more info.

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