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Installing Python

Requisite Knowledge

  • Ability to navigate the world wide web (i.e. visit
  • Understanding of hyperlinks
  • Understand where a file goes when downloaded; how to choose the download location if necessary.
  • Familiarity with software installation.
  • Ability to launch a newly installed program in your chosen operating system.
  • Comfort using the command line, or terminal.

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the Python download URL
  • Select which version of Python you will start using (e.g. 2.7 or 3)
  • Select the proper download file for your operating system
  • Discuss some of the differences between Python 2.x and 3.x
  • Paraphrase the advice of the Python community regarding whether to choose 2.x or 3.x
  • Predict when Python 3.x will be the primary branch of choice, if it is not already.
  • Identify whether Python is installed on your computer
  • Install Python on your computer
  • Use the interactive Python prompt to interpret a simple mathematical expression (i.e. use Python as a calculator)
  • Explain some uses of Python that you are eager to explore
  • Summarize your reasons for using Python

Task Materials

We first need to make sure that Python is installed on your Operating System of choice. Some systems, such as GNU/Linux or Apple Macintosh, come with Python pre-installed. You can test this out by opening your Terminal and typing:


Python will greet you with a screen similar to the following:

Python 3.1.2 (release31-maint, Dec  9 2011, 20:50:50) 
[GCC 4.4.5] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.

The  '>>>' indicates that Python is awaiting your input.

If you are not greeted by the previous message, or if you are running Windows, visit the Python Download Page and download the latest 2.7.x or 3.x Python version. 

You can either Install Python 2.x or Python 3.x

  • Python 2.x is widely used and supports many frameworks and packages.
  • Python 3.x is the future and will soon replace 2.x.
  • For more information on whether to choose Python2.x or Python 3.x, visit:

Reply to this task with the following information:

  • Your Operating System
  • The version of Python that you have installed (2.x or 3.x)
  • Something you are excited to learn about in this class.

Alternative Resources

Task Discussion