bin+lib python-launcher

The Python launcher for Unix

26 releases (1 stable)

1.0.0 Jul 24, 2021
0.18.1 Jul 24, 2021
0.17.0 Jun 18, 2021
0.15.0 Feb 27, 2021
0.4.0 Jun 26, 2018

#256 in Command line utilities

Download history 9/week @ 2021-10-02 47/week @ 2021-10-09 9/week @ 2021-10-16 8/week @ 2021-10-23 16/week @ 2021-10-30 36/week @ 2021-11-06 6/week @ 2021-11-13 13/week @ 2021-11-20 8/week @ 2021-11-27 55/week @ 2021-12-04 4/week @ 2021-12-11 3/week @ 2021-12-18 5/week @ 2021-12-25 35/week @ 2022-01-01 12/week @ 2022-01-08 30/week @ 2022-01-15

82 downloads per month

MIT license

900 lines

The Python Launcher for Unix

Launch your Python interpreter the lazy/smart way!

This project is an implementation of the py command for Unix-based platforms (with some potential experimentation for good measure 😉).

The goal is to have py become the cross-platform command that Python users typically use to launch an interpreter while doing development. By having a command that is version-agnostic when it comes to Python, it side-steps the "what should the python command point to?" debate by clearly specifying that upfront (i.e. the newest version of Python that can be found). This also unifies the suggested command to document for launching Python on both Windows as Unix as py has existed as the preferred command on Windows since 2012 with the release of Python 3.3.

Typical usage would be:

py -m venv .venv
py ...  # Whatever you would normally use `python` for during development.

This creates a virtual environment in a .venv directory using the latest version of Python installed. Subsequent uses of py will then use that virtual environment as long as it is in the current (or higher) directory; no environment activation required (although the Python Launcher supports activated environments as well)!

A non-goal of this project is to become the way to launch the Python interpreter all the time. If you know the exact interpreter you want to launch then you should launch it directly; same goes for when you have requirements on the type of interpreter you want (e.g. 32-bit, framework build on macOS, etc.). The Python Launcher should be viewed as a tool of convenience, not necessity.


There are various ways to install the Python Launcher for Unix. Some will install the extras provided by this project while others will not. Specifically, those extras are:

Via cargo

If you have the latest stable release of Rust installed, then you can install the Python Launcher via crates.io:

cargo install python-launcher

If you get a compilation error then it's very likely you don't have the latest stable release of Rust as there is a release every 6 weeks and this project tracks Rust's stable channel closely.

Do note that this will not install things such as shell completions, the man page, etc.

From a .tar.xz file

If you go to the releases page you will find various .tar.xz files for each release that target various platforms. If one is available for your platform then you can download the tarball and install it into e.g. /usr/local/ via:

tar --extract --strip-components 1 --directory /usr/local --file <tarball>

You can use tar -t -f <tarball> to see what files are included and where they will be installed (e.g. man page, shell completions, etc.).

If you don't want to install the tarball then you can extract the tarball and copy the files manually as desired; the py binary is self-contained and is not dependent on any other files from the tarball.

From source

This is equivalent to installing via crates.io (i.e. no extras are installed).

Using cargo

cargo install --path .

Using doit

Doit will only perform an installation if source code as changed since the last time you used the install command:

doit install


The general control flow for finding the appropriate Python executable is the following (with Python 3.6, Python 3, and the newest version of Python installed as examples):

See the man page or the top section of py --help for more details.


How do I have Starship use the Python Launcher to display the Python version?

Add the following to your Starship configuration file:

python_binary = ["py"]
# The following isn't necessary, but convenient.
detect_folders = [".venv"]

By using the Launcher with Starship, your prompt will tell you which Python version will be used if you run py. Since the Launcher supports virtual environments, the prompt will properly reflect both what global install of Python will be used, but also the local virtual environment.

How do I get a table of Python executables in Nushell?

py --list | lines | split column "" version executable | str trim

Do note that the character that is being split on is not the traditional U+007C/"Vertical Line"/pipe character (|), but U+2502/"Box Drawings Light Vertical" ().

How can I make the Python Launcher use my default Python version from pyenv?

If you're using pyenv to manage your Python versions, you'll want to grab the major and minor version from the first Python version listed in your default pyenv version file.

You can add this line to your .zshrc or bashrc file:

export PY_PYTHON=$(head -n 1 $(pyenv root)/version | cut -d "." -f 1,2)

Or this line in your ~/.config/fish/config.fish file:

set -gx PY_PYTHON (head -n 1 (pyenv root)/version | cut -d "." -f 1,2)



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