There’s a bug presently in CentOS 7’s python2 virtualenv package that breaks the ability to create python 3 virtual envs with the python3 binary (from package python34 in EPEL), making these otherwise useful instructions no longer viable.

This bug in the virtualenv package prevents you from using it with the -p python3 switch, and ends in something like this:

ImportError: No module named '_collections_abc'
ERROR: The executable fo/bin/python3 is not functioning
ERROR: It thinks sys.prefix is '/home/centos' (should be '/home/centos/foo')
ERROR: virtualenv is not compatible with this system or executable

While python3 does come with virtualenv-like functionaliy through pyvenv, you can’t use this as packaged by EPEL due to python34 package missing setuptools and other dependencies by default! Pyvenv’s default behavior is to use the ensurepip module to bootstrap pip into the virtualenv instance, and that fails miserably with the way EPEL packaged python34


There are three possibilities:

  1. Python 3 from EPEL has virtualenv-like functionality built-in with pyvenv, but the people that packaged it didn’t do so fully. Normally, pyvenv bootstraps itself with the ensurepip module, but in this instance it can’t because it’s missing dependencies. Instead, we use PyPa‘s pip bootstrap script.

    sudo yum install epel-release
    sudo yum install python34
    pyvenv --without-pip <folder>
    source ./<folder>/bin/activate
    curl | python3
  2. Updating the virtualenv python2 module does in fact work, too.

    sudo yum install epel-release
    sudo yum install python34 # still need this
    sudo pip install --upgrade virtualenv
    virtualenv -p python3 <folder>

    I prefer option #1 over #2, despite it being more complex, because it doesn’t affect any system’s packages.

  3. (bonus points!) There is a third and even more complex option that also doesn’t affect the system, using a python2 virtualenv as a bridge to patch the native virtualenv to support python3 :P

    sudo yum install epel-release
    sudo yum install python34
    virtualenv python2-bridge
    source ./python2-bridge/bin/active
    pip install --upgrade virtualenv
    virtualenv -p python3 <folder>
    source ./<folder>/bin/activate
    python --version && pip --version
    Python 3.4.3
    pip 8.1.2 from /home/centos/<folder>/lib/python3.4/site-packages (python 3.4)

- Mike