Conda - a package management system / POSTS

  • Wed Aug 22, 2018
  • 1489 words
  • 3 minutes

Conda brief

Conda is an open source package management system and environment management system that runs on Windows, macOS and Linux.

Package, dependency and environment management for any language—Python, R, Ruby, Lua, Scala, Java, JavaScript, C/ C++, FORTRAN

Conda quickly installs, runs and updates packages and their dependencies. Conda easily creates, saves, loads and switches between environments on your local computer.

Conda as a package manager helps you find and install packages. If you need a package that requires a different version of Python, you do not need to switch to a different environment manager, because conda is also an environment manager. With just a few commands, you can set up a totally separate environment to run that different version of Python, while continuing to run your usual version of Python in your normal environment.

Conda install

Conda is a package management system and environment management system.

Anaconda is the most popular Python/R distribution for data science. There are so many data science packages and tools come with it, including SciPy, NumPy, Jupyter Notebook and many others. While Anaconda manage packages, dependencies, environments with Conda.

Miniconda is a small, bootstrap version of Anaconda that includes only conda, Python, the packages they depend on and a small number of other useful packages, including pip, zlib and a few others. It’s a free minimal installer for conda. After install it, you can use the conda install command to install 720+ additional conda packages from the Anaconda repository. Also Miniconda is a Python distribution, and it can make installing Python quick and easy even for new users.

How to get them?

  1. If you just want to get Conda (with Python), please download and install the Miniconda.
  2. If you want to get a data science platform (with Python), please download and install the Anaconda.

After you installed Miniconda or Anaconda, you can use Conda with command line commands at the Anaconda Prompt for Windows, or in a Terminal window for macOS or Linux.

不要担心 Miniconda 或 Anaconda 的安装会跟电脑上本来存在的 Python 相互混淆。在 Windows 系统中,安装它们时,不要将其添加到环境变量 PATH 中,然后通过 Anaconda Prompt 访问到的 Python 是 Miniconda 和 Anaconda 自带的,通过计算的 CommandLine 访问到的 Python 则是系统原先安装的。

Conda concepts

Conda channels

The locations of the repositories where conda looks for packages. Channels may point to a Cloud repository or a private location on a remote or local repository that you or your organization created. The conda channel command has a default set of channels to search, beginning with, which you may override, for example, to maintain a private or internal channel. These default channels are referred to in conda commands and in the .condarcfile by the channel name “defaults.”

Conda environments

A conda environment is a directory that contains a specific collection of conda packages that you have installed. For example, you may have one environment with NumPy 1.7 and its dependencies, and another environment with NumPy 1.6 for legacy testing. If you change one environment, your other environments are not affected. You can easily activate or deactivate environments, which is how you switch between them. You can also share your environment with someone by giving them a copy of your environment.yaml file. For more information, see Managing environments.

Conda packages

A conda package is a compressed tarball file that contains system-level libraries, Python or other modules, executable programs and other components. Conda keeps track of the dependencies between packages and platforms. The conda package format is identical across platforms and operating systems.

Conda packages are downloaded from remote channels, which are URLs to directories containing conda packages. The conda command searches a default set of channels, and packages are automatically downloaded and updated from You can modify what remote channels are automatically searched. See also Managing packages.

To install conda packages, in the Terminal or an Anaconda Prompt, run:

conda install [packagename]

Conda Usage

You can use Conda with command line commands at the Anaconda Prompt for Windows, or in a Terminal window for macOS or Linux.

check version

conda --version

update to latest version

conda update conda

managing environments

Conda allows you to to create separate environments containing files, packages and their dependencies that will not interact with other environments.

With conda, you can create, export, list, remove and update environments that have different versions of Python and/or packages installed in them. Switching or moving between environments is called activating the environment. You can also share an environment file.

When you begin using conda, you already have a default environment named base. You don’t want to put programs into your base environment, though. Create separate environments to keep your programs isolated from each other.

  1. create a new environment and install packages
   conda create --name foo scrapy

Create an environment named foo and install scrapy package.

TIP: By default, environments are installed into the envs directory in your conda directory.

  1. activate/change to the new environment

    • Windows: activate foo
    • Linux/macOS: source activate foo

When you have changed to the new environment, any conda commands you type will go to that environment until you deactivate it.

  1. deactivate current environment back to the default(base)

    • Windows: deactivate
    • Linux/macOS: source deactivate
  2. list all of your environments

   conda info --envs

TIP: The active environment is the one with an asterisk (*).

managing python

Conda treats Python the same as any other package, so it is easy to manage and update multiple installations.

list available python versions

To list the versions of Python that are available to install, in your Terminal window or an Anaconda Prompt, run:

conda search python

To list only the packages whose full name is exactly python, add the --full-name option.

conda search --full-name python

create a new environment with specified python version

When you create a new environment, conda installs the same Python version you used when you downloaded and installed Anaconda. If you want to use a different version of Python, for example Python 3.5, simply create a new environment and specify the version of Python that you want.

conda create --name foo python=3.5

To verify that the current environment uses the new Python version, in your Terminal window or an Anaconda Prompt, run:

python --version

update python in an environment

If you are in an environment with Python version 3.4.2, the following command updates Python to the latest version in the 3.4 branch:

conda update python

The following command upgrades Python to another branch—3.6—by installing that version of Python:

conda install python=3.6

managing packages

  • list installed packages in current environment
  conda list
  • search packages from Anaconda repository (must be connected to the Internet)
  conda search scrapy
  • install packages
  conda install scrapy
  • update packages
  conda update scrapy
  • remove packages
  conda remove scrapy

managing channels

Different channels can have the same package, so conda must handle these channel collisions.

There will be no channel collisions if you use only the defaults channel. There will also be no channel collisions if all of the channels you use only contain packages that do not exist in any of the other channels in your list. The way conda resolves these collisions matters only when you have multiple channels in your channel list that host the same package.

The following command adds the channel “new_channel” to the top of the channel list, making it the highest priority:

conda config --prepend channels new_channel

Conda also now has a command that adds the new channel to the bottom of the channel list, making it the lowest priority:

conda config --append channels new_channel


The Conda Runtime Configuration file, an optional .yaml file that allows you to configure many aspects of conda, such as which channels it searches for packages, proxy settings and environment directories. A .condarc file is not included by default, but it is automatically created in your home directory when you use the conda config command.


A conda package that only lists dependencies and does not include any functional programs or libraries. The metapackage may contain links to software files that are automatically downloaded when executed. An example of a metapackage is “anaconda,” which collects together all the packages in the Anaconda installer. The command conda create -n envname anaconda creates an environment that exactly matches what would be created from the Anaconda installer.