Python with Ubuntu on Windows

Now that bash is on Windows, I wanted to try and make all the other guides I’d writen for Python on Windows irrelevant.

So here’s how to setup an effective environment for Python on Ubuntu on Windows.

1. Install Bash on Windows
2. Check for updates
3. Check out the REPL
4. Install Pip
5. Install VirtualEnv
6. Install VirtualEnvWrapper
7. Create your first virtualenv
8. Configure bashrc to keep it working
9. Install some packages
10. Test Flask

1. Install Bash on Windows:
Here’s the announcement blog for context.
How to Geek has a good breakdown of making it happen.

Make sure you remember your password.

Now that its installed try opening a command prompt and typing bash.
The prompt should change like this:

Notice that path?

That’s your user directory for windows where your OneDrive, Documents, Desktop, etc. exist.

You can go in there now and run python scripts that might already exist, but your probably won’t have all the necessary packages installed.

Before we move forward we want to make sure Ubuntu is up to date.

2. Check for updates
From another command prompt:
lxrun /update

And inside bash
sudo apt-get update

Thanks reddit for the tips!

3. Check out the REPL

Now run python!
$ python

Should look like this:

4. Install Pip

Now we’ll install Pip:
sudo apt-get install python-pip

If you have permission issues try starting an elevated prompt:
$ sudo -i
$ apt-get install python-pip
$ exit

Use exit to return to the regular prompt.
Should look like this:
Yay we’ve got pip!
Try pip list to see what comes standard.

5. Install VirtualEnv
Now we’re basically following along with the guide presented at

Again, you might need to start an elevated prompt to install virtualenv.

$ sudo -i
$ pip install virtualenv
$ exit
$ cd my_project_folder
$ virtualenv venv

Then to use the VirtualEnvironment

$ source venv/bin/activate

You should now see a little (venv) before your prompt.
Like this:

Now you’ve created a virtualenv inside of your my_project_folder directory. Which is cool, but can be confusing with git, sharing code, and testing package versions.
So we use VirtualEnvWrapper to keep our virtualenvs in the same place.

Before we move on make sure you deactivate your env

6. Install VirtualEnvWrapper

$ pip install virtualenvwrapper
$ export WORKON_HOME=~/Envs
$ source /usr/local/bin/

$ export WORKON_HOME=~/
Can be customized to whichever directory you’d like to place your virtualenvs

7. Create virtualenv using virtualenvwrapper

$ mkvirtualenv venv
$ workon venv
$ deactivate

Here’s an example of what it looks like to remove our venv directory and instead use venvv which will be stored in the directory underlined in red.


8. Configure bashrc to keep it working

This might not happen to you, but when I opened a new bash terminal I had to re-source my and WORKON_HOME.

So instead I added those lines to my bashrc script.

$ sudo nano ~/.bashrc
-- type in password --

This is what it looks like in nano for me.
Ctrl+X to exit and y-enter to save.

Then either:

Source ~/.bashrc

Or start a new command prompt->bash and try “workon” or “lsvirtualenv”

See the next image for a simple workflow.

9. Install some packages

Now lets install ‘requests’ into our newly created virtualenv:

Isn’t that nice!

10. Test Flask
Finally we’re going to test this with flask.
First we install the required files using pip into our activated ‘venv’
Then runserver -> navigate to the designated address -> and see our site.

Here’s what it looks like:

Have fun building with Python, on Ubuntu, on Windows!

Bike with pizza tied to the back
Sometimes you gotta tie a pizza to your bike.

Python, Pip, virtualenv installation on Windows

No more struggles Windows Python development! I’ve found this is the best way to configure your dev environment.
This has made things much easier to get started and less of a headache overall.

We use Virtual Environment so we can test python code in encapsulated environments and to also avoid filling our base Python installation with a bunch of libraries we might use for only one project.

But Virtual Environments can be tricky if you don’t establish a good workflow. I’ll show you how to setup your python environment from Scratch and then do a very simple workflow using Flask.

4 Steps:
Install Python
Install Pip
Install VirtualEnv
Install VirtualEnvWrapper-win

Install Python:

First Go to the Python Downloads Site.

As of March 2015 the download you want for a standard windows machine is Windows x86-64 MSI installer (The other download is for servers). Its circled here:


Run the installer!
You’ll come across this page in the installer:


You’ll want to scroll down and add it to the path. If you don’t that’s okay. You can add it later.
Adding Python to the PATH will allow you to call if from the command line.

After the installation is complete double check to make sure you see python in your PATH. You can find your path by opening your control panel -> System and Security -> System -> Advanced System Settings -> Environment Variables -> Selecting Path -> Edit ->

Now you’re looking at your Path. Be Careful, if you delete or add to the path accidently you may break other programs.

You need to confirm that C:\Python27; and C:\Python27\Scripts; is part of your path.

If you do not see it in your path you can simply add it at the beginning or end of the variable value box. As you can see in the image below.


Install Pip:

As of Python Version 2.7.9 Pip is installed automatically and will be available in your Scripts folder.

If you install a later version of Python I would recommend installing it according to this helpful stackoverflow post.

Pip is a Package manager for python which we will use to load in modules/libraries into our environments.

An example of one of these libraries is VirtualEnv which will help us keep our environments clean from other Libraries. This sounds really confusing but as you start using it you’ll begin to understand how valuable this encapsulation of modules/libraries can be.

To test that Pip is installed open a command prompt (win+r->’cmd’->Enter) and try ‘pip help’

You should see a list of available commands including install, which we’ll use for the next part:

Install virtualenv:

Now that you have pip installed and a command prompt open installing virtualenv to our root Python installation is as easy as typing ‘pip install virtualenv’
Like so:


Now we have virtualenv installed which will make it possible to create individual environments to test our code in. But managing all these environments can become cumbersome. So we’ll pip install another helpful package…

Install virtualenvwrapper-win:

This is the kit and caboodle of this guide.

Just as before we’ll use pip to install virtualenvwrapper-win. ‘pip install virtualenvwrapper-win’
Like so:


Excellent! Now we have everything we need to start building software using python! Now I’ll show you how buttery smooth it is to use these awesome tools!

7 Steps:
Make a Virtual Environment
Connect our project with our Environment
Set Project Directory
Pip Install

Make a Virtual Environemt:

Lets call it HelloWold. All we do in a command prompt is enter ‘mkvirtualenv HelloWold’
This will create a folder with python.exe, pip, and setuptools all ready to go in its own little environment. It will also activate the Virtual Environment which is indicated with the (HelloWold) on the left side of the prompt.


Anything we install now will be specific to this project. And available to the projects we connect to this environment.

Connect our project with our Environment:

Now we want our code to use this environment to install packages and run/test code.

First lets create a directory with the same name as our virtual environment in our preferred development folder. In this case mine is ‘dev’

See here:


HelloWold will be the root folder of our first project!

Set Project Directory:

Now to bind our virtualenv with our current working directory we simply enter ‘setprojectdir .’
Like so:


Now next time we activate this environment we will automatically move into this directory!
Buttery smooth.


Let say you’re content with the work you’ve contributed to this project and you want to move onto something else in the command line. Simply type ‘deactivate’ to deactivate your environment.
Like so:


Notice how the parenthesis disappear.
You don’t have to deactivate your environment. Closing your command prompt will deactivate it for you. As long as the parenthesis are not there you will not be affecting your environment. But you will be able to impact your root python installation.


Now you’ve got some work to do. Open up the command prompt and type ‘workon HelloWold’ to activate the environment and move into your root project folder.

Like so:


Pretty sweet! Lets get working.

Pip Install:

To use flask we need to install the packages and to do that we can use pip to install it into our HelloWold virtual environment.

Make sure (HelloWold) is to the left of your prompt and enter ‘pip install flask’
Like so:


This will bring in all the tools required to write your first web server!


Now that you have flask installed in your virtual environment you can start coding!

Open up your favorite text editor and create a new file called and save it in your HelloWold directory.

I’ve simply taken the sample code from Flask’s website to create a very basic ‘Hello World!’ server.

I’ve named the file

Once the code is in place I can start the server using ‘python’ this will run the python instance from your virtual environment that has flask.

See here:


You can now navigate with your browser to and see your new site!

Sweet. You have everything you need to start working through tutorials on Flask without worrying about gunking up your Python installations.

Let me know if you have any questions! Happy Developing!

Art Deco From Afar
Art Deco From Afar

Flask-SocketIO, Background Threads , Jquery, Python Demo

This week I’ve been making progress on the Huggable Cloud Pillow website.

In the process I’ve learned about some sweet stuff you can do with Javascript, Python, and Flask-SocketIO.

The first thing to take note of is Flask.

Flask is the tiny server that allows us to host websites using Python to deliver content to the client. While on the server side you can manage complicated back ends or other processes using Python in conjunction with Flask.

This type of development is nice, because you can start seeing results right away but can take on big projects easily.

It might not be the most robust Framework, but its great for small projects…

If you want to get into Flask Web Development checkout this extensive MVA.

Small and simple, Flask is static on its own. This allows us to present static content, like templates and images easily and deals with input from the user using RESTful calls to receive input. This is great for static things with lots of user actions, but if we want something a bit more dynamic we’re going to need another tool.

In this case I’ve found Flask-SocketIO, similar to Flask-Sockets but with a few key differences highlighted by the creator (Miguel Grinberg) here.

Sockets are great for is providing live information with low latency. Basically, you can get info on the webpage without reloading or waiting for long-polling.

There are lots of ways you can extend this functionality to sharing rooms and providing communication with users and all sorts of fun stuff that is highlighted on GitHub with a great chunk of sample code. The following demo is based off of these samples.

For my project, I need the webpage to regularly check for differences in the state of the cloud and present them to the client, while also changing the image the user sees.

At first I tried to implement it using sockets passing information back and forth, but that wasn’t very stable.

The solution I’ve found, uses a background thread that is constantly running while the Flask-SocketIO Application is running, it provides a loop that I use to constantly check state of our queue.

Let’s break it down…
a. I need my website to display the current state of the cloud.
b. The Flask application can get the state by query our azure queue.
c. Once we determine a change of state we can display that information to the webpage.
d. To display the new state to the webpage we need to use a socket.
e. And pass the msg to be displayed.

This demo intends to break down problem a, c, d, and e.

I’ve created this little guide to help another developer get going quickly, with a nice piece of code available on GitHub.

The five steps to this little demo project are as follows:
1. Install Flask-SocketIO into our Virtual Environment
2. Create our background thread
3. Have it emit the current state to our client
4. Call the background thread when our page render_template’s
5. Have the Javascript Catch the emit and format our HTML.
Celebrate! Its Friday!


Flask-SocketIO is a python package that is available for download using

pip install Flask-SocketIO

Make sure you instal it into a Virtual Environment. Check out my earlier tutorial if you need help with this step.

*Edit Here’s the top part of the “” for reference:
from gevent import monkey

import time
from threading import Thread
from flask import Flask, render_template, session, request
from flask.ext.socketio import SocketIO, emit, join_room, disconnect

app = Flask(__name__)
app.debug = True
app.config['SECRET_KEY'] = 'secret!'
socketio = SocketIO(app)
thread = None


Create our background thread.
You’ll see in the sample code from Flask-SocketIO’s github a simple way to send data to the client regardless of their requests.

For this example we’ll be changing the current time every second and display that to our client.

Background Thread:

def background_stuff():
     """ python code in """
     print 'In background_stuff'
     while True:
         t = str(time.clock())
         socketio.emit('message', {'data': 'This is data', 'time': t}, namespace='/test')


This is the emit statement from above, but is the meat of our interface with SocketIO. Notice how it breaks down…

socketio.emit('message', {'data': 'This is data', 'time': t}, namespace='/test')
socektio.emit('tag', 'data', namespace)

This emit will be sending to the client (Javascript) a message called ‘message’.

When the Javascript catches this message it will be able to pull from the python dicionary and msg.time to get the result of this package.


So how do we call background_stuff?

We can call it wherever we want, but for this simple example we’ll put it right in our ‘/’ base route. So when we navigate to (Local Host) we’ll see the result of our background thread call.

Here’s our route:

def index():
    global thread
    if thread is None:
        thread = Thread(target=background_stuff)
    return render_template('index.html')

Pretty simple… Notice global thread and target=background_stuff

Creating different background threads is a good way to iterate through your changes.


Next step is catching this on the other side…

So for our Javascript…

we’ll be using the socket.on method.

socket.on('message', function(msg){
    $('#test').html('<p>' + msg.time + '</p>');

When we receive the emit labeled ‘message’ we’ll pick up the msg from the second parameter and have it be available to our JQuery work.

Here’s the small piece of HTML that we’re selecting to edit.

    <p id='test'>Hello</p>

I’ve posted all of this code at github.

Feel free to download it and start working with dynamic sites using SocketIO. Please let me know if you have any questions!

Code for SF's Hackathon gave out awesome tattoos!
Code for SF’s Hackathon gave out awesome tattoos!