On new Debian 12 Bookworm installs, when I try running
pip3 install [something] (whether that’s Ansible or some other Python tool), I get the following error message:
╰─# pip3 install -r requirements.txt
× This environment is externally managed
╰─> To install Python packages system-wide, try apt install
python3-xyz, where xyz is the package you are trying to
If you wish to install a non-Debian-packaged Python package,
create a virtual environment using python3 -m venv path/to/venv.
Then use path/to/venv/bin/python and path/to/venv/bin/pip. Make
sure you have python3-full installed.
If you wish to install a non-Debian packaged Python application,
it may be easiest to use pipx install xyz, which will manage a
virtual environment for you. Make sure you have pipx installed.
See /usr/share/doc/python3.11/README.venv for more information.
note: If you believe this is a mistake, please contact your Python installation or OS distribution provider. You can override this, at the risk of breaking your Python installation or OS, by passing --break-system-packages.
hint: See PEP 668 for the detailed specification.
The error message says you can pass in the flag
--break-system-packages but that sounds terrifying. I just want pip to stop nagging me, but let me manage my system dependencies like I have for many years.
I think some Python developers really want people like me to use virtual environments, but that’s way too much effort when I don’t really care to do that. If you want to use
venv more power to you. I just like getting stuff done on my servers.
So the solution for Debian 12, at least, is to delete the
EXTERNALLY-MANAGED file in your system Python installation:
sudo rm -rf /usr/lib/python3.11/EXTERNALLY-MANAGED
Note that the
python3.11 version number should match whatever you have installed—it was 3.11 at the time of this blog post’s writing.