Cleaning Python modules an have fresh start Mac OS X

I am not a total newbie but I am trying to install modules for quite a long time and at this point i would like to have a fresh start and install python and all the modules I need so i really understand them. My problem is that some of them import, but most of them install either to the wrong site-packages or dont import maybe because i messed up my system/python. Also I tried the PYTHONPATH and PATH to set this up right, but it never worked.

So my questions are:

  1. Is there a way to ensure I can clean everything up and start from zero ? Ideally this would be without having to set up Mac OSX new.
  2. Is there a way to install all the modules in the correct place (whatever the directory is I dont care, it should just work)?
  3. Is there a good step-by-step description on how installing modules works. And I dont mean just the info to use easy_install, pip install etc, but a way to fully understand what I need to consider, where I need to put them, why these modules are recognized in certain directories, how the system finds them and most important what are the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

I also tried Macports and various other similiar ways to install but even if some of them worked and while I am sure that these are really great tools, most I had to hack to work.

So if someone can recommend a good and stable way to install a lot of modules at once, this would be incredibly useful.

Thanks a lot !!!!

And sorry for the long questions.


  • Is there a way to install all the modules in the correct place?

    Download and untar/gunzip/etc the module source (Most of the modules ares available in gzip form at, then run configure with --prefix set to the same thing for every install:

        [ 11:06 ~ ]$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local

    /usr/local is usually the default, but it doesn't hurt to specify it and will ensure that every module you install will be placed in /usr/local/lib/python/...

  • Is there a good step-by-step description on how installing modules works?

    The Python website has a great page called: Installing Python Modules

Buildout and virtualenv should be what you are looking for.

Buildout helps you configure a python installation and virtualenv allows you to isolate multiple different configurations from each other.

Here's a nice blog post explaining how to use them together.

Also, see this other question: Buildout and Virtualenv

You can safely install an up-to-date Python 2 and/or Python 3 on OS X using the installers here. They will coexist with any other Pythons you have installed or that were shipped by Apple with OS X. To install packages, for each Python instance first install Distribute which will install a version-specific easy_install command, i.e. easy_install-2.7 or easy_install-3.2. Many people prefer to use pip to manage packages; you can use easy_install to install a version-specific copy of it. If you want something fancier, you could also install virtualenv but, with the isolation provided by Python framework builds on OS X, that isn't as necessary as on most other platforms.

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