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Getting Started with Python on Ubuntu

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence are definitely making the headlines again, and developers are starting to make use of it in applications. Getting started with AI is not as easy as it should be.

Setting up a development environment in order to run through a number of tutorials available is also a difficult task for a lot of developers especially if thos developers are not familiar with Python and its ever expanding ecosystem.

In this post I will provide instructions on how to set up Ubuntu 18.04 desktop in order to start developing AI enabled applications.

What is Anaconda

If you are taking the time to learn how to develop in Python, then there is a good chance that you will enevitably be interested in developing applications for large-scale data processing, predictive analytics, scientific computing, Machine Learning (ML) or Artificial Intelligence (AI).

These types of projects will typically require the creation of a number of different operating environments using possibly different versions of Python or even library versions to work. For instance, TensorFlow, which is a popular machine learning library, is not compatible with Python 3.7 and in most cases it is preferred to use Python 3.5, which can be quite troublesome to always re-configure your development workstation every time you’re moving between projects.

This is where Virtual Environments are ideal. Python comes prepackaged with a Virtual Environment tool, called venv, which works great for creating lightweight virtual environments. However, Anaconda is a free and open-source distribution of the Python and R programming languages for data science and machine learning applications, that aims to simplify package management and deployment.

Package versions are managed by the package management system conda. The Anaconda distribution is used by over 6 million users and includes more than 250 popular data-science packages suitable for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Install Anaconda

The first step to installing Anaconda on Ubuntu 18.04 is to download the Anaconda installer for linux. Typically this will download to your Downloads folder. After download has completed, open a terminal window and change into your Downloads folder cd ~/Downloads.

Depending  on how you have your Ubuntu configured you can install Anaconda with or without sudo.

To install anaconda with sudo

sudo bash

or without sudo


After the install is complete, you should see a new folder in your  Home directory : anaconda3

For full details on how to Install Anaconda on Linux

Anaconda Navigator

Once the Anaconda installation has completed you can now start using it. To verify that anaconda has been installed, you can simply use the command python in a terminal window and see a response similar too :

You’ll notice that Anaconda is now included within your python version information. You can use quit() to exit out.

To check which packages are installed you use the command conda list which will list all the libraries available.

If you would like a friendly user interface to anaconda simply use the command anaconda-navigator the Anaconda Navigator will be displayed

anaconda navigator

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Gary Woodfine

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