Python OS X Mavericks Issues

Yesterday I decided to upgrade OS X on my Late-2011 Mac Book Pro from 10.7 Lion to 10.9 Mavericks. I felt no rush to upgrade - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" - but after reading about the new features, particularly the improved support for multiple displays - I decided to give it a shot.

Everything went smoothly - except that my Python installation completely broke. This was a big break - I work in Python almost everyday. By broke, I mean that Apple wiped out all of the python libraries I've installed - pip, virtualenv, numpy, matplotlib, ipython, pandas, flask, greenlet - all gone.

In retrospect, it was my mistake. I was installing packages in /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages, which Apple wiped clean when I upgraded to Mavericks.

I recovered by installing Python using Homebrew. It's a much better option because:

  • the installation will come with pip installed
  • the Python packages you install will be put in a safe place and you won't need to use sudo to install them.
  • You'll avoid some compilation errors when installing some packages.
    • I encountered this issue when trying to install greenlet package using an easy_install'ed version of' pip, but not with the Homebrew installed pip.

Here are the steps I followed to fix my Python installation:

  1. You need to reinstall XCode and the Command Line Tools to get a compiler. This can be done from the App Store. Lots of resources on how to do this - see this or this.

  2. Install Python with Homebrew instead of using the Python interpreter which ships with Mavericks. Homebrew will install the latest Python v2.7.6, while Mavericks ships with v2.7.5:

    brew update
    brew install python
  3. Upgrade setuptools and pip, as suggested:

    pip install --upgrade setuptools
    pip install --upgrade pip
  4. Install your favorite package

    pip install numpy, ipython, matplotlib, pandas, flask, yolk

These will be installed to /usr/local/lib/python2.7/site-packages, which is a safe zone. Future OS X upgrades won't wipe out your installed packages.

I'm still getting build errors on scipy that I have not yet resolved, but I'll save that for another rainy day.

In conclusion, use Homebrew to stay mostly sane.

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