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Anurag Pandey
Anurag Pandey

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Copy venv from one folder to another and still be able to use it?

If you have ever copied the python virtual environment folder from one location to another and faced problem using it, this article will help you understand how you can solve this problem.

Let us first create a folder, named example and then create a virtual environment and install flask using pip

$ mkdir example
$ cd example
$ python -m venv venv
$ source venv/bin/activate
$ pip install Flask
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Now you have a virtual env with flask installed.

After doing this python sets an environment variable VIRTUAL_ENV, let us check its value.

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We will now move this venv folder to some other folder.

$ mkdir example2
$ mv venv/ example2/
$ cd example2
$ source venv/bin/activate
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Now let us check the value of VIRTUAL_ENV variable

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Wow, this is strange. I have moved the folder but still the value of VIRTUAL_ENV variable is the same?
This is because when you create the virtual environment, the location is hardcoded based on current directory.
You can check this inside activate file we have previously used to activate the virtual environment.
You will find something like VIRTUAL_ENV='/home/username/example/venv'.

The solution for using the virtual environment at the new location is simple. Just change this path in all program inside venv/bin directory to the new path :-)
Please don't do it manually!!!
Use tools like sed on unix or similar tools for the same.

Example using sed:

$ old_path='/home/username/example/venv'
$ new_path='/home/username/example/example2/venv'
$ cd venv/bin/
$ sed -i "s|$old_path|$new_path|g" *
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The last command is replace in-place the value of old_path with new_path. * signifies all files in current directory(not exactly, but for this example consider it). Make sure you run this command while present in venv/bin folder.

After doing this reactivate the virtual env.

$ source venv/bin/activate
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And voila!


  1. For sed command used:

Top comments (2)

stephenskett profile image
Stephen Skett

This is a really handy tip, thank you for sharing!

One slight issue which might be worth flagging though: using the sed command on a virtual env's bin folder will break any sym-links to e.g. the env's Python commands. So these will need to be recreated afterwards.

mzhumakhanov profile image
Maksim Zhumakhanov

Please could you provide any details for understanding? As I understand, when I replace a wrong old path with a proper new one, then all paths become correct and all files can be found by the new paths. How it could break symlinks?

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