Ubuntu – Apt-get install vs pip install

aptpippythonsoftware installation

I am a bit confused about the cases in which the above commands must be used when downloading python packages. I was trying to download a package named pyudev in accordance with an answer with this question. I executed this command :

sudo pip install python-pyudev

but received the following message :

Downloading/unpacking python-pyudev

  Could not find any downloads that satisfy the requirement python-pyudev
Cleaning up...
No distributions at all found for python-pyudev
Storing complete log in /home/vineet/.pip/pip.log

However the following worked fine :

sudo apt-get install python-pyudev

When is apt-get supposed to be used to install packages and when is python-pip used?

Best Answer

  • PyPI is the Python Package index — repository of python modules.

    pip is used to download and install packages directly from PyPI. PyPI is hosted by Python Software Foundation. It is a specialized package manager that only deals with python packages.

    apt-get is used to download and install packages from Ubuntu repositories which are hosted by Canonical.

    Some of the differences between installing python packages from apt-get and pip are as follows:

    • Canonical only provides packages for selected python modules. Whereas, PyPI hosts a much broader range of python modules. So, there are a lot of python modules which you won't be able to install using apt-get.

    • Canonical only hosts a single version of any package (generally the latest or the one released in recent past). So, with apt-get we cannot decide the version of python-package that we want. pip helps us in this situation. We can install any version of the package that has previously been uploaded on PyPI. This is extremely helpful in case of conflict in dependencies.

    • apt-get installs python modules in system-wide location. We cannot just install modules in our project virtualenv. pip solves this problem for us. If we are using pip after activating the virtualenv, it is intelligent enough to only install the modules in our project virtualenv. As mentioned in previous point, if there is a version of a particular python package already installed in system-wide location, and one of our project requires an older version of the same python package, in such situations we can use virtualenv and pip to install that older version of python package without any conflicts.

    • As @Radu Rădeanu pointed out in this answer, there would generally be difference in names of packages as well. Canonical usually names Python 2 packages as python-<package_name> and Python 3 packages as python3-<package_name>. Whereas for pip we generally just need to use <package_name> for both Python 2 as well as Python3 packages.

    Which one should you use:

    Both apt-get and pip are mature package managers which automatically install any other package dependency while installing. You may use anyone as you like. However, if you need to install a particular version of python-package, or install the package in a virtualenv, or install a package which is only hosted on PyPI; only pip would help you solve that issue. Otherwise, if you don't mind installing the packages in system-wide location it doesn't really matter whether you use apt-get or pip.