Prevent Accidental Installation of Packages Outside Virtual Environment

You may often find yourself accidentally installing packages to your global python interpreter because you forgot to activate a virtual environment. Thankfully you can make pip require virtualenv to be activated in order to perform the install.

There are two ways to do this: either by using an environment variable PIP_REQUIRE_VIRTUALENV or by enabling require-virtualenv pip config option.

To make this a default globally either add the following to your .bashrc (or .zshrc or whatever other rc you are using)

echo "export PIP_REQUIRE_VIRTUALENV=true" >> ~/.bashrc

or run the following command

python -m pip config set global.require-virtualenv true

Which will add something along the lines of

[global]
require-virtualenv = true

to your ~/.config/pip/pip.conf (may be a different location on your system).

I prefer the second option as that way I don't clutter my .bashrc and if I add new pip config entries they will all be in the same file. The second option also works on Windows.


Setting this option globally will be useful most of the time but you may still need to run commands for the global interpreter.

$ pip freeze
ERROR: Could not find an activated virtualenv (required).

This can be easily achieved by adding PIP_REQUIRE_VIRTUALENV=false in front of the command that's failing:

$ PIP_REQUIRE_VIRTUALENV=false pip freeze
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