virtualenvwrapper is an excellent tool to manage python virtual environments. It lets you collect all virtual environments into a single directory. It can also activate the virtual environments from any directory with a single command. virtualenvwrapper makes all the hassles of finding the activate file and sourcing it go away. This article explains the installation and configuration of virtualenvwrapper in Linux systems.

This article assumes you are using python 3. If you want to configure virtualenvwrapper for python 2.7, substitute python3 with python2 in relevant places.

Install virtualenvwrapper

Install pip3 if not already installed. For Debian based systems such as Debian, Ubuntu Or Linux mint, run the following command from a terminal.

sudo apt install python3-pip

For Fedora based systems such as Fedora, Cent OS or RHEL, use

sudo dnf install python3-pip

Once you have pip3 installed, use it to install virtualenvwrapper. Run the following command from a terminal.

sudo pip3 install virtualenvwrapper

Configuring virtualenvwrapper

After installation, you need to do some configurations to make virtualenvwrapper work. First, you will have to create a directory to save all virtual environments. Usually, it is the .virtualenvs directory in your home directory.

mkdir ~/.virtualenvs

Now you have to set this as the home directory for your workon command (You will learn more about workon command in next section). The following command will do that for you.

export WORKON_HOME=~/.virtualenvs

Next, you have to add some configurations to your .bashrc file. Open your .bashrc file using

nano ~/.bashrc

and add the following line at the end of it.

source /usr/local/bin/

The above configuration is for Debian based systems. For Fedora based systems, you have to add

source /usr/local/bin/

Now, source the updated .bashrc file.

source ~/.bashrc

Creating and Using Virtual Environments

To create a new virtual environment, run

mkvirtualenv name-of-your-virtual-env

This will create a new virtual environment and activate it for you. To deactivate the virtual environment, run


To activate your virtual environment again, simply run

workon name-of-your-virtual-env

This will work from any directory. Also, you can have any number of virtual environments and switch between them using workon and deactivate.

If you want to create a virtual environment that uses a different python interpreter instead of the one you configured in your .bashrc file, you can pass it as an argument to the mkvirtualenv command. For example, the following command will create a virtual environment that uses python2.6.

mkvirutalenv my-very-old-env --python=/usr/bin/python2.6

Of course, for this to work, you should have python2.6 installed.

Posted on
Category: Python
Tags: Python, Virtual Environment, virtualenvwrapper, Linux, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, RHEL, Cent OS, Opensuse