How to install python modules without root access?

Each Answer to this Q is separated by one/two green lines.

I’m taking some university classes and have been given an ‘instructional account’, which is a school account I can ssh into to do work. I want to run my computationally intensive Numpy, matplotlib, scipy code on that machine, but I cannot install these modules because I am not a system administrator.

How can I do the installation?

In most situations the best solution is to rely on the so-called “user site” location (see the PEP for details) by running:

pip install --user package_name

Below is a more “manual” way from my original answer, you do not need to read it if the above solution works for you.

With easy_install you can do:

easy_install --prefix=$HOME/local package_name

which will install into


(the ‘local’ folder is a typical name many people use, but of course you may specify any folder you have permissions to write into).

You will need to manually create


and add it to your PYTHONPATH environment variable (otherwise easy_install will complain — btw run the command above once to find the correct value for X.Y).

If you are not using easy_install, look for a prefix option, most install scripts let you specify one.

With pip you can use:

pip install --install-option="--prefix=$HOME/local" package_name

No permissions to access nor install easy_install?

Then, you can create a python virtualenv ( and install the package from this virtual environment.

Executing 4 commands in the shell will be enough (insert current release like 16.1.0 for X.X.X):

$ curl --location --output virtualenv-X.X.X.tar.gz
$ tar xvfz virtualenv-X.X.X.tar.gz
$ python pypa-virtualenv-YYYYYY/src/ my_new_env
$ . my_new_env/bin/activate
(my_new_env)$ pip install package_name

Source and more info:

You can run easy_install to install python packages in your home directory even without root access. There’s a standard way to do this using site.USER_BASE which defaults to something like $HOME/.local or $HOME/Library/Python/2.7/bin and is included by default on the PYTHONPATH

To do this, create a .pydistutils.cfg in your home directory:

cat > $HOME/.pydistutils.cfg <<EOF

Now you can run easy_install without root privileges:

easy_install boto

Alternatively, this also lets you run pip without root access:

pip install boto

This works for me.

Source from Wesley Tanaka’s blog :

If you have to use a distutils script, there are some commandline options for forcing an installation destination. See If this problem repeats, you can setup a distutils configuration file, see

Setting the PYTHONPATH variable is described in tihos post.

Important question. The server I use (Ubuntu 12.04) had easy_install3 but not pip3. This is how I installed Pip and then other packages to my home folder

  1. Asked admin to install Ubuntu package python3-setuptools

  2. Installed pip

Like this:

 easy_install3 --prefix=$HOME/.local pip
 mkdir -p $HOME/.local/lib/python3.2/site-packages
 easy_install3 --prefix=$HOME/.local pip
  1. Add Pip (and other Python apps to path)

Like this:

echo PATH="$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH" > $HOME/.profile
  1. Install Python package

like this

pip3 install --user httpie

# test httpie package

I use JuJu which basically allows to have a really tiny linux distribution (containing just the package manager) inside your $HOME/.juju directory.

It allows to have your custom system inside the home directory accessible via proot and, therefore, you can install any packages without root privileges. It will run properly to all the major linux distributions, the only limitation is that JuJu can run on linux kernel with minimum reccomended version 2.6.32.

For instance, after installed JuJu to install pip just type the following:

$>juju -f
(juju)$> pacman -S python-pip
(juju)> pip

The best and easiest way is this command:

pip install --user package_name

Install virtualenv locally (source of instructions):

Important: Insert the current release (like 16.1.0) for X.X.X.
Check the name of the extracted file and insert it for YYYYY.

$ curl -L -o virtualenv.tar.gz
$ tar xfz virtualenv.tar.gz
$ python pypa-virtualenv-YYYYY/src/ env

Before you can use or install any package you need to source your virtual Python environment env:

$ source env/bin/activate

To install new python packages (like numpy), use:

(env)$ pip install <package>

Install Python package without Admin rights

import sys

!{sys.executable} -m pip install package_name


import sys

!{sys.executable} -m pip install kivy


The answers/resolutions are collected from stackoverflow, are licensed under cc by-sa 2.5 , cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0 .

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