- Python is a widely used general-purpose, high-level programming language. Its design philosophy emphasizes code readability, and its syntax allows programmers to express concepts in fewer lines of code than would be possible in languages such as C. The language provides constructs intended to enable clear programs on both a small and large scale.
- Python supports multiple programming paradigms, including object-oriented, imperative and functional programming or procedural styles. It features a dynamic type system and automatic memory management, and has a large and comprehensive standard library.
Python 3 is the latest version of the language, and is incompatible with Python 2. The language is mostly the same, but many details, especially how built-in objects like dictionaries and strings work, have changed considerably, and a lot of deprecated features have finally been removed. Also, the standard library has been reorganized in a few prominent places. For an overview of the differences, visit Python2orPython3 and their relevant chapter in Dive into Python 3.
If you would like to build the latest RC/betas from source, visit Python Downloads. The Arch User Repository also contains good PKGBUILDs. If you do decide to build the RC, note that the binary (by default) installs to
Python 2 will happily run alongside Python 3. You need to specify
python2 in order to run this version.
Any program requiring Python 2 needs to point to
/usr/bin/python2, instead of
/usr/bin/python, which points to Python 3. To do so, open the program or script in a text editor and change the first line. The line will show one of the following:
In both cases, just change
python2 and the program will then use Python 2 instead of Python 3.
Another way to force the use of python2 without altering the scripts is to call it explicitly with
$ python2 myScript.py
Finally, you may not be able to control the script calls, but there is a way to trick the environment. It only works if the scripts use
#!/usr/bin/env python. It will not work with
#!/usr/bin/python. This trick relies on
env searching for the first corresponding entry in the
First create a dummy folder:
$ mkdir ~/bin
Then add a symlink
python to python2 and the config scripts in it:
$ ln -s /usr/bin/python2 ~/bin/python $ ln -s /usr/bin/python2-config ~/bin/python-config
Finally put the new folder at the beginning of your
$ export PATH=~/bin:$PATH
To check which python interpreter is being used by
env, use the following command:
$ which python
A similar approach in tricking the environment, which also relies on
#!/usr/bin/env python to be called by the script in question, is to use a Python VirtualEnv.
Old versions of Python are available via the AUR and may be useful for historical curiosity, old applications that do not run on current versions, or for testing Python programs intended to run on a distribution that comes with an older version (e.g. RHEL 5.x has Python 2.4, or Ubuntu 12.04 has Python 3.1):
- AUR: Python 1.5.2
- broken link: archived in aur-mirror]: Python 2.4.6 AUR[
- AUR: Python 2.5.6
- AUR: Python 2.6.9
- AUR: Python 3.0.1
- broken link: archived in aur-mirror]: Python 3.1.5 AUR[
- AUR: Python 3.2.5
- AUR: Python 3.3.5
- AUR: Python 3.4.3
As of July 2014, Python upstream only supports Python 2.7, 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4 for security fixes. Using older versions for Internet-facing applications or untrusted code may be dangerous and is not recommended.
Extra modules/libraries for old versions of Python may be found on the AUR by searching for
python<version without period>, e.g. searching for "python26" for 2.6 modules.
The following widget toolkit bindings are available:
- TkInter — Tk bindings
- http://wiki.python.org/moin/TkInter || standard module
- pyQt — Qt bindings
- pySide — Qt bindings
- pyGTK — GTK+ 2 bindings
- PyGObject — GTK+ 2/3 bindings via GObject Introspection
- wxPython — wxWidgets bindings
To use these with Python, you may need to install the associated widget kits.
Tips and tricks
IPython is an enhanced Python command line available in the official repositories as and . If you want the IPython notebook, install for the IPython3 notebook and for the IPython2 notebook. Run
$ jupyter notebook
to autostart the browser and run the IPython kernel. You can select the python version when creating the notebook in the browser.
bpython is a ncurses interface to the Python interpreter, available in the official repositories as and .
is a Python tool written by Ian Bicking and used to create isolated environments for Python in which you can install packages without interfering with the other virtualenvs nor with the system Python's packages. It could change the python interpreter used for a specific application.
See Python/Virtualenv for details.
Getting completion in Python2 shell
Copy this into Python's interactive shell:
import rlcompleter import readline readline.parse_and_bind("tab: complete")
Dealing with version problem in build scripts
Many projects' build scripts assume
python to be Python 2, and that would eventually result in an error — typically complaining that
print 'foo' is invalid syntax. Luckily, many of them call
python from the
PATH instead of hardcoding
#!/usr/bin/python in the shebang line, and the Python scripts are all contained within the project tree. So, instead of modifying the build scripts manually, there is an easy workaround. Just create
/usr/local/bin/python with content like this:
#!/bin/bash script=$(readlink -f -- "$1") case "$script" in (/path/to/project1/*|/path/to/project2/*|/path/to/project3*) exec python2 "$@" ;; esac exec python3 "$@"
/path/to/project1/*|/path/to/project2/*|/path/to/project3* is a list of patterns separated by
| matching all project trees.
Do not forget to make it executable:
# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/python
Afterwards scripts within the specified project trees will be run with Python 2.
Python, ViM and UTF-8
:!python -c "import sys; print(sys.stdout.encoding)" in ViM, the output may be
ANSI_X3.4-1968, even if the locale is set correctly everyhere.
PYTHONIOENCODING environment variable to
utf-8 to remedy the situation.