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Virtual Environments in Python: Optimizing Your Development Environment

Creating a Virtual Environment and Installing Python 3.8 for Debian 10Python reigns as one of the most popular programming languages in the world, with developers and programmers using it across different platforms. However, installing Python, especially the latest version, can prove to be challenging for beginners and even advanced users.

This article aims to provide a step-by-step guide on installing Python 3.8 and creating a virtual environment to enhance the Python code development process. Installing Python 3.8

To install Python 3.8 on Debian 10, you need to download and extract the source code from the official website.

Once you have extracted the tarball, navigate to the directory containing the Python 3.8 installation files using the terminal. The second step is to configure the Python 3.8 build by running the configure script.

Before running the script, you need to ensure that all the dependencies are installed, such as OpenSSL, zlib, and libffi, among others. The third step is to build Python 3.8 using the make command.

The build process may take a few minutes, depending on the processor speed and the number of available cores. After building Python 3.8, you can proceed with the installation process.

You need sudo access to install Python 3.8. To install, execute the requisite make install command in the terminal. Finally, verify that Python 3.8 has been installed correctly by checking the version number using the command, “python3.8 -V.”

Creating a Virtual Environment

A virtual environment refers to a self-contained, isolated location designed to keep Python packages separate from one another. This way, a user can work on a project without worrying about interfering with other Python projects on the same system.

To create a virtual environment, navigate to your desired project directory using the terminal and create a new folder for your Python virtual environment. Next, open the terminal and invoke the venv module from Python 3.8. Use the command, “python3.8 -m venv” followed by the name of your virtual environment folder.

After creating the virtual environment, activate it by typing “source folder-name/bin/activate” (assuming the folder name is “folder-name”), then press ENTER. This command activates the virtual environment, indicating that any subsequent Python packages installed via pip are installed only within the virtual environment, ensuring a self-contained and isolated environment.

Usage Of The Virtual Environment

Once the virtual environment is up and running, you can execute the “pip install” command to install any required packages within the environment. After installing the required packages, ensure to run the program with “python” instead of just “python” to distinguish files in the current working folder from Python base packages.

Deactivating the Virtual Environment

To deactivate or exit the virtual environment, simply type in “deactivate” in the terminal, and the environment will shut down. Your development environment will now revert to using system Python packages instead of the virtual environment.


Installing Python 3.8 and creating a virtual environment can enhance the Python code development process by providing a self-contained and isolated environment that keeps Python packages separate from one another. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to install Python 3.8 on Debian 10 and the process of creating and utilizing a virtual environment for Python code development.

With this information, users can have a better development experience using Python with minimal package conflicts across projects. In the world of programming, Python is revered as an essential programming language with many applications.

When programming in Python, it is crucial to have an efficient and optimized programming environment that encourages productivity and minimizes the potential for errors. One way this is achieved is through the use of virtual environments, which have been discussed briefly in the previous section.

Here, we will delve into the world of virtual environments in greater detail. What are Virtual Environments?

At a high level, a virtual environment refers to an isolated environment that contains its own copy of packages and dependencies that are unique to a specific project. In simpler terms, a virtual environment is a self-contained environment in which you can install Python, pip, and any other required packages.

Why create virtual environments? When programming in Python, it is crucial to avoid package dependency conflicts.

A package dependency conflict is an issue that arises when two or more projects depend on a specific version of the same package. If, for example, project A requires a specific version of a package, while project B requires a different version of the same package, developers can encounter significant difficulties in creating code that works seamlessly.

In such scenarios, virtual environments can be used to ensure that each project maintains its own unique environment. This allows different projects to utilize different versions of packages, without affecting the functioning or stability of other projects.

Creating a Virtual Environment

Before creating a virtual environment, you need to ensure you have Python 3.8 installed on your system, which was covered in detail in a previous section.

To create a new virtual environment, open your terminal and navigate to your desired project folder.

Once there, type in the command “python3.8 -m venv name_of_virtual_environment”. Essentially, what you are doing is calling your Python 3.8 module and providing it with the command “venv”, which stands for “virtual environment”.

The “-m” flag indicates that we want to import a Python module.

Activating a Virtual Environment

After creating a virtual environment, the next step is to activate it. Activating a virtual environment involves linking it to your system’s shell.

By linking this virtual environment to your system shell, you gain access to all the packages and dependencies that are installed within the virtual environment. To activate your newly created virtual environment, type the command “source ./name-of-virtual-environment/bin/activate” at your terminal prompt.

Alternatively, in some operating systems, you might use just “activate”:


source name_of_virtual_environment/bin/activate


Now that the environment has been activated, typing in the command “which python” should return the path to the virtual environment Python interpreter. This indicates that Python is now working within the virtual environment and not the system’s Python.

Installing Packages

With the virtual environment now up and running, the next step is to start installing packages. As you know, a virtual environment aims to be self-contained, which means that any Python packages should be installed locally within the environment.

Python packages can be installed within the virtual environment either via pip (the package installer for Python) or by using a package manager like Anaconda. A typical command used when installing packages from the command line is “pip install package_name”, which tells the system to locate and install the specific package you want to use.

Once installed, the package is then registered within the virtual environment, where it becomes isolated from any packages installed within other virtual environments, and the main system Python installation.

Running Python Scripts

To run a Python script within a virtual environment, ensure that the environment is activated, navigate to the location of the script and run it from the command line. It is important to remember that the environmental variables, packages, and Python version should all be maintained through the virtual environment.

This is important because running a script outside the virtual environment might necessitate that different versions of Python are required resulting in undesired conflicts.

Deactivating a Virtual Environment

After completing the work you were doing in a virtual environment and want to switch back to the system Python installation- simply deactivate the virtual environment. To do this, type in the command “deactivate” in the terminal.

Running this command automatically closes down all terminal sessions related to the environment, restoring the standard path environment variables.


In sum, creating a virtual environment in Python allows you to maintain individual, self-contained environments distinctive to each project you develop. Should any project require an update to a particular package or Python version, that specific project’s virtual environment can be updated without causing conflicts to other projects.

Ultimately, the proper use of virtual environments enhances Python development, providing that it increases efficiencies, productivity, and decreases errors. In conclusion, creating a virtual environment in Python is an essential step towards developing efficient and optimized programming environments.

By keeping each project’s dependencies and packages isolated, virtual environments prevent package dependency conflicts that lead to errors and instability. Overall, virtual environments promote productivity, increase efficiency, and reduce errors in Python development.

Remember, always activate your virtual environment via the command line before installing packages and executing code. With virtual environments, developers can enjoy fully self-contained environments that maximize productivity and minimize errors.

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