What is the most compatible way to install python modules on a Mac?


I"m starting to learn python and loving it. I work on a Mac mainly as well as Linux. I"m finding that on Linux (Ubuntu 9.04 mostly) when I install a python module using apt-get it works fine. I can import it with no trouble.

On the Mac, I"m used to using Macports to install all the Unixy stuff. However, I"m finding that most of the python modules I install with it are not being seen by python. I"ve spent some time playing around with PATH settings and using python_select . Nothing has really worked and at this point I"m not really understanding, instead I"m just poking around.

I get the impression that Macports isn"t universally loved for managing python modules. I"d like to start fresh using a more "accepted" (if that"s the right word) approach.

So, I was wondering, what is the method that Mac python developers use to manage their modules?

Bonus questions:

Do you use Apple"s python, or some other version? Do you compile everything from source or is there a package manger that works well (Fink?).

Answer rating: 145

The most popular way to manage python packages (if you"re not using your system package manager) is to use setuptools and easy_install. It is probably already installed on your system. Use it like this:

easy_install django

easy_install uses the Python Package Index which is an amazing resource for python developers. Have a look around to see what packages are available.

A better option is pip, which is gaining traction, as it attempts to fix a lot of the problems associated with easy_install. Pip uses the same package repository as easy_install, it just works better. Really the only time use need to use easy_install is for this command:

easy_install pip

After that, use:

pip install django

At some point you will probably want to learn a bit about virtualenv. If you do a lot of python development on projects with conflicting package requirements, virtualenv is a godsend. It will allow you to have completely different versions of various packages, and switch between them easily depending your needs.

Regarding which python to use, sticking with Apple"s python will give you the least headaches, but If you need a newer version (Leopard is 2.5.1 I believe), I would go with the macports python 2.6.