Procrastinative Ninja

what I do, when I don't do, what I should do.

Install Python 3.4 on Raspberry Pi

Jul 20, 2014

The resulting setup will use virtualenv + convenience wrapper and install Python 3.4 under /opt to prevent any (future) collisions with the system Python.


  1. Apparently all the you are supposed to use pyenv now, but that’s too much new stuff at once for me.
  2. My Linux fu is pretty weak, so this was a lot of try and error. Please leave a comment, if you have any improvements.


Create a backup of your SD card!

sudo apt-get install rpi-update
sudo rpi-update             # update the firmware
sudo reboot                 # reboot needed
sudo apt-get update         # update package information
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade   # upgrade everything, resolving dependencies
# now we should be up to date - yay

# update pip
sudo pip install -IU pip

# virtualenv and a handy wrapper
sudo pip install -IU virtualenv virtualenvwrapper

During my fist attempt I later ran into the following error while installing pip:

Installing setuptools, pip...
  Complete output from command /home/pi/.virtualenvs/python34/bin/python3.4 -c "import sys, pip; sys...d\"] + sys.argv[1:]))" setuptools pip:
  Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "<string>", line 1, in <module>
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/virtualenv_support/pip-1.5.6-py2.py3-none-any.whl/pip/", line 10, in <module>
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/virtualenv_support/pip-1.5.6-py2.py3-none-any.whl/pip/", line 18, in <module>
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/virtualenv_support/pip-1.5.6-py2.py3-none-any.whl/pip/_vendor/distlib/", line 14, in <module>
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/virtualenv_support/pip-1.5.6-py2.py3-none-any.whl/pip/_vendor/distlib/", line 66, in <module>
ImportError: cannot import name 'HTTPSHandler'
...Installing setuptools, pip...done.
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/", line 2338, in <module>
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/", line 824, in main
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/", line 992, in create_environment
    install_wheel(to_install, py_executable, search_dirs)
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/", line 960, in install_wheel
    'PIP_NO_INDEX': '1'
  File "/usr/local/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/", line 902, in call_subprocess
    % (cmd_desc, proc.returncode))
OSError: Command /home/pi/.virtualenvs/python34/bin/python3.4 -c "import sys, pip; sys...d\"] + sys.argv[1:]))" setuptools pip failed with error code 1

Aparently SSL is needed as dependency and needs to be install before compiling python, so I did this whole thing twice. Luckily I don’t have anything else to do…

To make sure I don’t have to do this a third time, I started digging around, trying to find a complete list of dependencies. First, I installed apt-rdepends sudo apt-get install apt-rdepends and ran it:

pi@whatever ~ $ apt-rdepends python3.2 | grep ^lib
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done

Unfortunately Python 3.4 is not in the index yet, which is the reason why we’re compiling from source in the first place. I was just hoping the dependencies didn’t change too much since Python 3.2.

To see what already is installed, you can search for packages with dpkg --get-selections | grep -v deinstall | grep ^libbz.

I just installed the whole buch plus the corresponding dev packages.

sudo apt-get install libbz2-1.0 libbz2-dev libffi5 libffi-dev libncursesw5 libncursesw5-dev libreadline6 libreadline6-dev liblzma5 liblzma-dev libsqlite3-0 libsqlite3-dev libexpat1 libexpat1-dev libssl-dev openssl


Head over to and copy the link to the gzipped source tarball of the Python version you want to install. 3.4.1 was the latest version as of writing this.

# get the source
cd /tmp
tar xvzf Python-3.4.1.tgz
cd Python-3.4.1/

# configure, make, make install
./configure --prefix=/opt/python3.4     # this takes a little bit (~ 5 minutes)
make                                    # this takes aaages (about an hour)
sudo make install                       # this is rather quick again (~ 7 minutes)

Add source /usr/local/bin/ to your ~/.bashrc.

I rebooted at this point. Don’t know if it’s really necessary.

Finally, create a virtual python environment with mkvirtualenv python34 -p /opt/python3.4/bin/python3.4. Fingers crossed, no errors and you get:

(python34)pi@whatever /tmp/Python-3.4.1 $ python --version
Python 3.4.1

To find out how to work with python virtual environments, check out the virtualenvwrapper command documentation.

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