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Pip installation across Linux distros: A detailed guide

Learn the specific steps for distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, and CentOS, ensuring you can manage Python packages effectively regardless of your Linux environment.

by Arun Kumar
installing pip on various distributions

In today’s world, where Python has become a staple in the programming community, managing Python packages efficiently is more important than ever. This is where pip, Python’s de facto package manager, comes into play. It’s an essential tool for anyone working in Python, allowing you to install, update, and manage Python packages with ease.

In this comprehensive guide, we will navigate through the steps of installing pip in various Linux distributions, explore some of its top options, and even delve into how to uninstall it when necessary. Additionally, I will address some frequently asked questions to further clarify the usage and management of pip in a Linux environment.

What is pip?

Before we dive into the installation process, let’s quickly understand what pip is. Pip stands for “Pip Installs Packages.” It’s the go-to tool for installing and managing Python packages from the Python Package Index (PyPI). I personally love pip for its simplicity and efficiency in managing libraries.

Checking if pip is already installed

First things first, let’s check if pip is already installed on your system. Open your terminal and type:

pip --version


pip3 --version

If pip is installed, you’ll see the version number. If not, you’ll get an error message. Don’t worry; follow the steps below to install it.

Installing pip in Ubuntu and Debian-based distributions

Ubuntu and its cousins are quite popular, so let’s start with them.

Step 1: Update package list

It’s always a good practice to update your package list:

sudo apt update

Step 2: Install pip

Now, install pip by running:

sudo apt install python3-pip

Step 3: Verify installation

Check if pip is installed:

pip3 --version

You should see the version number. That’s it! You’re ready to use pip on your Ubuntu machine.

Installing pip in Fedora

Fedora users, you’re next!

Step 1: Update your system

Though not always necessary, I like to start with an updated system:

sudo dnf update

Step 2: Install pip

Use dnf to install pip:

sudo dnf install python3-pip

Step 3: Confirm installation

Double-check if pip is installed:

pip3 --version

Seeing the version number means you’re all set!

Installing pip in Arch Linux

Arch Linux, known for its KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), is a favorite of mine.

Step 1: Sync package database

sudo pacman -Sy

Step 2: Install pip

sudo pacman -S python-pip

Step 3: Verify the installation

pip --version

If you see the version, pip is ready to roll.

Installing pip in CentOS

CentOS, the enterprise darling, follows a slightly different path.

Step 1: Add EPEL repository

Since pip isn’t in the default repo, add EPEL:

sudo yum install epel-release

Step 2: Install pip

Now, install pip:

sudo yum install python-pip

Step 3: Check installation

pip --version

The appearance of the version number signals success.

Tips for managing pip

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Always upgrade pip to the latest version:
    pip install --upgrade pip
  • Use virtual environments to manage packages for different projects.
  • Explore pip’s many options and commands to make the most out of it. I will share my top 5 options below to start with.

Top 5 pip options and their usage

After installing pip, understanding some of its top options can greatly enhance your Python package management experience. Here, I’ll introduce you to five of pip’s most useful options. These are the options I find myself using frequently in my projects.

1. Installing packages

The most common use of pip is to install packages from PyPI. Here’s how you do it:


pip install package_name


pip install requests


Collecting requests
  Downloading requests-2.25.1-py2.py3-none-any.whl (61 kB)
     |████████████████████████████████| 61 kB 1.2 MB/s
Installing collected packages: requests
Successfully installed requests-2.25.1

2. Listing installed packages

To see a list of all installed packages along with their versions, use this command:


pip list

Example Output:

Package    Version
---------- -------
pip        21.0.1
requests   2.25.1

3. Uninstalling packages

If you need to remove a package, pip makes it easy:


pip uninstall package_name


pip uninstall requests


Found existing installation: requests 2.25.1
Uninstalling requests-2.25.1:
  Would remove:
Proceed (y/n)? y
  Successfully uninstalled requests-2.25.1

4. Searching for packages

While the pip search command is no longer available, here are several effective ways to find Python packages:

1. Search PyPI directly:

  • Visit https://pypi.org/search and enter your search query in the search bar.
  • This provides a comprehensive list of packages matching your criteria along with descriptions, ratings, and other details.
  • You can refine your search using filters for keywords, authors, license types, etc.

2. Install a third-party search tool:

  • pip_search: This tool replicates the functionality of pip search and offers sorting options. Install it with:
    pip install pip_search

    Then use it as:

    pip_search <package_name>
  • Other options: Consider tools like yolk3k, qypi, or custom scripts for searching PyPI.


pip search package_name


pip search requests


requests (2.25.1)  - Python HTTP for Humans.
  INSTALLED: 2.25.1 (latest)

5. Showing package details

For detailed information about a specific package, use this command:


pip show package_name


pip show requests


Name: requests
Version: 2.25.1
Summary: Python HTTP for Humans.
Home-page: https://requests.readthedocs.io
Author: Kenneth Reitz
Author-email: me@kennethreitz.org
License: Apache 2.0
Location: /usr/local/lib/python3.9/site-packages

How to uninstall pip in various Linux distributions

While pip is an essential tool for most Python developers, there might be scenarios where you need to uninstall it. Whether it’s for a clean reinstallation or just to declutter your system, uninstalling pip varies slightly across different Linux distributions. Let’s go through the process for some of the major ones.

Uninstalling pip in Ubuntu and Debian-based distributions

Ubuntu and Debian users can follow these steps:

  1. Open Terminal and run the command:
    sudo apt remove python3-pip
  2. Output: You will see a prompt confirming the removal of pip. Once confirmed, pip will be uninstalled.

Uninstalling pip in Fedora

For Fedora users, the process is similar:

  1. Open Terminal and execute:
    sudo dnf remove python3-pip
  2. Output: After a confirmation prompt, pip will be uninstalled from your Fedora system.

Uninstalling pip in Arch Linux

Arch Linux, known for its pacman package manager, requires a slightly different command:

  1. Open Terminal and type:
    sudo pacman -R python-pip
  2. Output: Pip will be removed after you confirm the prompt.

Uninstalling pip in CentOS

CentOS, especially the older versions, might require a couple of extra steps:

  1. Open Terminal and enter:
    sudo yum remove python-pip
  2. Output: This command will uninstall pip from your CentOS system.

Additional steps

After uninstalling pip, you might want to check if it’s completely removed. Type pip --version or pip3 --version in your terminal. If you still see pip’s version, it means pip is not fully uninstalled. This could happen due to multiple installations (like user-level and system-level installations).

In such cases, find where pip is installed by using which pip or which pip3, and then remove those files manually. But be cautious with manual deletions, as they can affect system stability if done incorrectly.

Frequently Asked Questions about pip and Python on Linux

In this section, I’ll address some common questions about using pip and managing Python environments on Linux. These are based on queries I’ve seen often in online forums and from personal experience.

1. What is the difference between pip and pip3?


  • pip is traditionally used for Python 2, whereas pip3 is for Python 3. However, with Python 2 reaching its end of life, pip usually points to Python 3 in newer installations. It’s always good to check with pip --version and pip3 --version.

2. How do I know if pip is installed for Python 2 or Python 3?


  • Run pip --version or pip3 --version in the terminal. The version output will include the Python version with which pip is associated.

3. Can I have both Python 2 and Python 3 installed on the same system?


  • Yes, you can. Linux systems often come with Python 2 pre-installed. You can install Python 3 alongside it. Use python2 and python3 to access the respective versions.

4. How do I switch between different Python versions on Linux?


  • You can use tools like update-alternatives on Debian-based systems to set the default Python version. Alternatively, use virtual environments to manage different Python versions for different projects.

5. What is a Python virtual environment, and how do I use one?


  • A Python virtual environment is an isolated environment that allows you to manage different Python versions and packages for individual projects. You can create one using python3 -m venv /path/to/new/virtual/environment. Activate it with source /path/to/new/virtual/environment/bin/activate and deactivate with the deactivate command.

6. Why should I upgrade pip, and how do I do it?


  • Upgrading pip ensures you have the latest features, security updates, and bug fixes. Upgrade it using pip install --upgrade pip.

7. How do I fix the “pip: command not found” error?


  • This error usually means pip is not installed or not added to your PATH. Follow the installation instructions for your Linux distribution. If pip is installed but not found, add its installation directory to your PATH environment variable.

8. Can I use pip to install packages globally and locally?


  • Yes. Without any additional flags, pip installs packages globally. To install a package locally, use pip install --user package_name. It’s often recommended to use virtual environments for local installations to avoid conflicts.

9. How do I list all packages installed by pip?


  • Use pip list to see all packages installed in the current environment.

10. What should I do if a pip installation fails?


  • Check the error message for details. Common issues include missing dependencies, lack of permissions (use sudo if appropriate), or network issues. Sometimes, updating pip (pip install --upgrade pip) or installing the required development tools for your distribution can resolve the problem.


Navigating through the world of Python on Linux can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to managing packages. However, with pip, this task becomes significantly more manageable. From installing pip on different Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch Linux, and CentOS, to understanding its top features and dealing with common issues, we’ve covered a broad spectrum of what you need to know.

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