Django on Dreamhost: Virtual Python Install

After writing the backend for a new web app in python I went to start working on the Django portion. I was planning on hosting this application with a Dreamhost shared hosting plan which already has Python 2.5 installed. After trying unsuccessfully to install some new middleware with easy_install, I started looking for a solution that gives me more control over what I want to do with Python without having to purchase dreamhost vps hosting. It seems that you can set up a virtual python install in your home directory and it was surprisingly easy. I’ve only had the need to use this virtual python install on Dreamhost, which is using Debian, but I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work on other environments.

Note that this is completely unnecessary if you have root access.

Assuming you already have a shell account and you are ssh’d in, execute these commands to install your virtual python environment:

$ wget http://peak.telecommunity.com/dist/virtual-python.py 
$ python virtual-python.py

Those commands copy the Python binary to your /home/user/bin directory and sets up symbolic links to the system wide libraries. This means that the ~/bin/python executable will have access to the same libraries as the system Python but that any extra installed software will not affect the system wide Python install.

Next you should add the ~/bin directory to your PATH by adding this block to your .bash_profile:

 if [ -d ~/bin ] ; then     
    PATH=~/bin:"${PATH}" 
fi 

You’ll have to log out and back in for this to take effect.
After you’re logged back in, run these commands to install easy_setup:
$ wget http://peak.telecommunity.com/dist/ez_setup.py 
$ python ez_setup.py 

Now you should be able to install whatever you want using easy_install. The first thing I did was install django-db-log using this command:
$ easy_install django-db-log

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