Seemingly ubiquitous in the Python world, the distribution Anaconda comes with over 200 Python packages installed. Anaconda also comes with a package manager called conda.

Besides its utility for installing and managing packages, conda also possesses the ability to create virtual environments which make sharing and reproducing analyses much easier. These virtual environments are created without any Python packages preloaded into them.

Installing Python packages into the virtual environment is often straightforward. You can use the conda install  command to install many packages quickly and easily.

Not all packages are available with conda install, through, and if you want one that isn’t available then you’ll have to use the alternate package manager pip. It is not at all obvious how Anaconda’s package manager conda and pip interact with each other, particularly in the context of virtual environments.

Here is how to install packages using pip inside a conda virtual environment. First thing is to get set up:

  1. Create your virtual environment with conda create --name virtual_env_name , replacing ‘virtual_env_name’ with the name of your virtual environment
  2. Switch to your virtual environment with source activate virtual_env_name , again replacing ‘virtual_env_name’ with the name of your virtual environment
  3. Run conda install pip , which will install pip to your virtual environment directory

At this point you have two versions of pip  installed; a global version and a version specific to your virtual environment. If you try to run pip install 'package_name' you’ll use the global version, which will install the package outside your virtual environment.

You need to use the version of pip  inside your virtual environment. To do this you need to find the directory of your virtual environment, which will be somewhere like “/anaconda/envs/virtual_env_name/”. You can install packages into your virtual environment with /anaconda/envs/venv_name/bin/pip install package_name .

That’s all there is to it.

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