This document describes the steps required to install IPython. IPython is organized into a number of subpackages, each of which has its own dependencies. All of the subpackages come with IPython, so you don’t need to download and install them separately. However, to use a given subpackage, you will need to install all of its dependencies.

Please let us know if you have problems installing IPython or any of its dependencies. IPython requires Python version 2.4 or greater. We have not tested IPython with the upcoming 2.6 or 3.0 versions.


IPython will not work with Python 2.3 or below.

Some of the installation approaches use the setuptools package and its easy_install command line program. In many scenarios, this provides the most simple method of installing IPython and its dependencies. It is not required though. More information about setuptools can be found on its website.

More general information about installing Python packages can be found in Python’s documentation at http://www.python.org/doc/.

Installing IPython itself

Given a properly built Python, the basic interactive IPython shell will work with no external dependencies. However, some Python distributions (particularly on Windows and OS X), don’t come with a working readline module. The IPython shell will work without readline, but will lack many features that users depend on, such as tab completion and command line editing. See below for details of how to make sure you have a working readline.

Installation using easy_install

If you have setuptools installed, the easiest way of getting IPython is to simple use easy_install:

$ easy_install IPython

That’s it.

Installation from source

If you don’t want to use easy_install, or don’t have it installed, just grab the latest stable build of IPython from here. Then do the following:

$ tar -xzf ipython.tar.gz
$ cd ipython
$ python setup.py install

If you are installing to a location (like /usr/local) that requires higher permissions, you may need to run the last command with sudo.


There are a few caveats for Windows users. The main issue is that a basic python setup.py install approach won’t create .bat file or Start Menu shortcuts, which most users want. To get an installation with these, there are two choices:

  1. Install using easy_install.
  2. Install using our binary .exe Windows installer, which can be found at here
  3. Install from source, but using setuptools (python setupegg.py install).

Installing the development version

It is also possible to install the development version of IPython from our Bazaar source code repository. To do this you will need to have Bazaar installed on your system. Then just do:

$ bzr branch lp:ipython
$ cd ipython
$ python setup.py install

Again, this last step on Windows won’t create .bat files or Start Menu shortcuts, so you will have to use one of the other approaches listed above.

Some users want to be able to follow the development branch as it changes. If you have setuptools installed, this is easy. Simply replace the last step by:

$ python setupegg.py develop

This creates links in the right places and installs the command line script to the appropriate places. Then, if you want to update your IPython at any time, just do:

$ bzr pull

Basic optional dependencies

There are a number of basic optional dependencies that most users will want to get. These are:

  • readline (for command line editing, tab completion, etc.)
  • nose (to run the IPython test suite)
  • pexpect (to use things like irunner)

If you are comfortable installing these things yourself, have at it, otherwise read on for more details.


In principle, all Python distributions should come with a working readline module. But, reality is not quite that simple. There are two common situations where you won’t have a working readline module:

  • If you are using the built-in Python on Mac OS X.
  • If you are running Windows, which doesn’t have a readline module.

On OS X, the built-in Python doesn’t not have readline because of license issues. Starting with OS X 10.5 (Leopard), Apple’s built-in Python has a BSD-licensed not-quite-compatible readline replacement. As of IPython 0.9, many of the issues related to the differences between readline and libedit have been resolved. For many users, libedit may be sufficient.

Most users on OS X will want to get the full readline module. To get a working readline module, just do (with setuptools installed):

$ easy_install readline

If needed, the readline egg can be build and installed from source (see the wiki page at http://ipython.scipy.org/moin/InstallationOSXLeopard).

On Windows, you will need the PyReadline module. PyReadline is a separate, Windows only implementation of readline that uses native Windows calls through ctypes. The easiest way of installing PyReadline is you use the binary installer available here. The ctypes module, which comes with Python 2.5 and greater, is required by PyReadline. It is available for Python 2.4 at http://python.net/crew/theller/ctypes.


To run the IPython test suite you will need the nose package. Nose provides a great way of sniffing out and running all of the IPython tests. The simplest way of getting nose, is to use easy_install:

$ easy_install nose

Another way of getting this is to do:

$ easy_install IPython[test]

For more installation options, see the nose website. Once you have nose installed, you can run IPython’s test suite using the iptest command:

$ iptest


The pexpect package is used in IPython’s irunner script. On Unix platforms (including OS X), just do:

$ easy_install pexpect

Windows users are out of luck as pexpect does not run there.

Dependencies for IPython.kernel (parallel computing)

The IPython kernel provides a nice architecture for parallel computing. The main focus of this architecture is on interactive parallel computing. These features require a number of additional packages:

  • zope.interface (yep, we use interfaces)
  • Twisted (asynchronous networking framework)
  • Foolscap (a nice, secure network protocol)
  • pyOpenSSL (security for network connections)

On a Unix style platform (including OS X), if you want to use setuptools, you can just do:

$ easy_install IPython[kernel]    # the first three
$ easy_install IPython[security]  # pyOpenSSL

zope.interface and Twisted

On Unix style platforms (including OS X), the simplest way of getting the these is to use easy_install:

$ easy_install zope.interface
$ easy_install Twisted

Of course, you can also download the source tarballs from the Twisted website and the zope.interface page at PyPI and do the usual python setup.py install if you prefer.

Windows is a bit different. For zope.interface and Twisted, simply get the latest binary .exe installer from the Twisted website. This installer includes both zope.interface and Twisted and should just work.


Foolscap uses Twisted to provide a very nice secure RPC protocol that we use to implement our parallel computing features.

On all platforms a simple:

$ easy_install foolscap

should work. You can also download the source tarballs from the Foolscap website and do python setup.py install if you prefer.


IPython requires an older version of pyOpenSSL (0.6 rather than the current 0.7). There are a couple of options for getting this:

  1. Most Linux distributions have packages for pyOpenSSL.
  2. The built-in Python 2.5 on OS X 10.5 already has it installed.
  3. There are source tarballs on the pyOpenSSL website. On Unix-like platforms, these can be built using python seutp.py install.
  4. There is also a binary .exe Windows installer on the pyOpenSSL website.

Dependencies for IPython.frontend (the IPython GUI)


Starting with IPython 0.9, IPython has a new IPython.frontend package that has a nice wxPython based IPython GUI. As you would expect, this GUI requires wxPython. Most Linux distributions have wxPython packages available and the built-in Python on OS X comes with wxPython preinstalled. For Windows, a binary installer is available on the wxPython website.