matplotlib does not show my drawings although I call

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

Help required on matplotlib. Yes, I did not forget calling the

$ ipython –pylab

import matplotlib.pyplot as p 
p.plot(range(20), range(20))

It returns matplotlib.lines.Line2D at 0xade2b2c as the output.

There is nothing to happen. No error message. No new window. Nothing. I install matplotlib by using pip and I didn’t take any error messages.


I use,

  • Ubuntu
  • IPython v0.11
  • Python v2.6.6
  • matplotlib v1.0.1

If I set my backend to template in ~/.matplotlib/matplotlibrc,
then I can reproduce your symptoms:


# backend      : GtkAgg
backend      : template

Note that the file matplotlibrc may not be in directory ~/.matplotlib/. In this case, the following code shows where it is:

>>> import matplotlib
>>> matplotlib.matplotlib_fname()

In [1]: import matplotlib.pyplot as p

In [2]: p.plot(range(20),range(20))
Out[2]: [<matplotlib.lines.Line2D object at 0xa64932c>]

In [3]:

If you edit ~/.matplotlib/matplotlibrc and change the backend to something like GtkAgg, you should see a plot. You can list all the backends available on your machine with

import matplotlib.rcsetup as rcsetup

It should return a list like:

['GTK', 'GTKAgg', 'GTKCairo', 'FltkAgg', 'MacOSX', 'QtAgg', 'Qt4Agg',
'TkAgg', 'WX', 'WXAgg', 'CocoaAgg', 'agg', 'cairo', 'emf', 'gdk', 'pdf',
'ps', 'svg', 'template']


I ran into the exact same problem on Ubuntu 12.04, because I installed matplotlib (within a virtualenv) using

pip install matplotlib

To make long story short, my advice is: don’t try to install matplotlib using pip or by hand; let a real package manager (e.g. apt-get / synaptic) install it and all its dependencies for you.

Unfortunately, matplotlib’s backends (alternative methods for actually rendering your plots) have all sorts of dependencies that pip will not deal with. Even worse, it fails silently; that is, pip install matplotlib appears to install matplotlib successfully. But when you try to use it (e.g., no plot window will appear. I tried all the different backends that people on the web suggest (Qt4Agg, GTK, etc.), and they all failed (i.e. when I tried to import matplotlib.pyplot, I get ImportError because it’s trying to import some dependency that’s missing). I then researched how to install those dependencies, but it just made me want to give up using pip (within virtualenv) as a viable installation solution for any package that has non-Python package dependencies.

The whole experience sent me crawling back to apt-get / synaptic (i.e. the Ubuntu package manager) to install software like matplotlib. That worked perfectly. Of course, that means you can only install into your system directories, no virtualenv goodness, and you are stuck with the versions that Ubuntu distributes, which may be way behind the current version…

%matplotlib inline

For me working with notebook, adding the above line before the plot works.

For future reference,

I have encountered the same problem — pylab was not showing under ipython. The problem was fixed by changing ipython’s config file {}. In the config file

c.InteractiveShellApp.pylab = 'auto'

I changed ‘auto’ to ‘qt’ and now I see graphs

Just type:


See at 23:30 !

plt is used because of my import: import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

I’m using python2.7 on a mac with iTerm2.

What solved my problem was just using the below two lines in ipython notebook at the top

%matplotib inline
%pylab inline

And it worked. I’m using Ubuntu16.04 and ipython-5.1

Adding the following two lines before importing pylab seems to work for me

import matplotlib

import sys
import pylab
import numpy as np

I had to install matplotlib from source to get this to work. The key instructions (from are:

$ workon plotting
$ pip uninstall matplotlib
$ git clone
$ cd matplotlib
$ python install

By changing the backend, as @unutbu says, I just ran into loads more problems with all the different backends not working either.

Similar to @Rikki, I solved this problem by upgrading matplotlib with pip install matplotlib --upgrade. If you can’t upgrade uninstalling and reinstalling may work.

pip uninstall matplotlib
pip install matplotlib

Be sure to have this startup script enabled :
( Preferences > Console > Advanced Options )


If the standard PYTHONSTARTUP is enabled you won’t have an interactive plot

For me the problem happens if I simply create an empty matplotlibrc file under ~/.matplotlib on macOS. Adding “backend: macosx” in it fixes the problem.

I think it is a bug: if backend is not specified in my matplotlibrc it should take the default value.

After running your code include:

import pylab as p

I found that I needed window = Tk() and then window.mainloop()

if you are a nube from ruby, don’t forget the parenthesis – show()

For Ubuntu 12.04:

sudo apt-get install python-qt4
virtualenv .env --no-site-packages
source .env/bin/activate
easy_install -U distribute
ln -s /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/PyQt4 .
ln -s /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/ .
pip install matplotlib

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