Separate Python libraries with venv

Easier removal of unneeded dependencies

I have several Python scripts for data processing purpose. I put them in “/.local/bin/“ folder so that I can directly run them by $ script_a (“/.local/bin/“ is preconfigured to be part of “$PATH”). A minor annoyance I found is that whenever I want to dispose a script along with its dependencies, I need to figure out which ones are core libraries or which ones are still required by other scripts (e.g. is logging a core library?).

Recently, I learned about venv from awscli which it uses to install dependencies in a dedicated folder. Despite a plenty of tutorials on virtual environment, I found most of them use virtualenv since it’s more powerful and supports Python2; I prefer venv because it is a core Python3 library and sufficient for my need.

Let’s say I have and it requires dep_x and dep_y libraries. I install the libraries to “/.local/lib/script_a/“ folder, so if I don’t need the script anymore, I just “rm -rf” the script and “/.local/lib/script_a/“ folder where its dependencies are located.

mkdir -p ~/.local/lib/
python -m venv ~/.local/lib/script_a/
source ~/.local/lib/script_a/bin/activate
pip install dep_x dep_y

When you run pip list, you won’t see the libraries because they are installed in a separate folder. To inspect them,

source ~/.local/lib/script_a/bin/activate
pip list

Now you should be able to see them.

In the Python script, in order to use the libraries, you should use the usual #!/usr/bin/env python3 header, instead it should be #!/home/foo/.local/lib/script_a/bin/python3.

If the script is intended to be installed among users, you can use the following shell script to install the python script:


mkdir -p "$HOME/.local/bin/"
cp "" "$HOME/.local/bin/script_a"
chmod u+x "$HOME/.local/bin/script_a"
sed "1 s|^.*$|#\!$HOME/.local/lib/script_a/bin/python3|" "$HOME/.local/bin/script_a"

mkdir -p "$HOME/.local/lib/"
python -m venv "$HOME/.local/lib/script_a/"
. "$HOME/.local/lib/script_a/bin/activate"
pip install dep_x dep_y

Although slash (/) is usually used as a separator in sed, but it actually supports other special characters. In this example, I use vertical bar (|) so that I don’t have to escape the slashes. Notice the shell script is a posix shell script, so . "$HOME/..." is used instead of source "$HOME/...".

Depending on python is installed, you may be need to substitute “python” and “pip” with “python3” and “pip3” respectively. Some installations like Ubuntu WSL may not include “venv” library, it can installed with python3-venv package.