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Comparison to Other Tools

pipx vs pip

  • pip is a general Python package installer. It can be used to install libraries or cli applications with entrypoints.
  • pipx is a specialized package installer. It can only be used to install packages with cli entrypoints.
  • pipx and pip both install packages from PyPI (or locally)
  • pipx relies on pip (and venv)
  • pipx replaces a subset of pip's functionality; it lets you install cli applications but NOT libraries that you import in your code.
  • you can install pipx with pip

Example interaction: Install pipx with pip: pip install --user pipx

pipx vs poetry and pipenv

  • pipx is used solely for application consumption: you install cli apps with it
  • pipenv and poetry are cli apps used to develop applications and libraries
  • all three tools wrap pip and virtual environments for more convenient workflows

Example interaction: Install pipenv and poetry with pipx: pipx install poetry Run pipenv or poetry with pipx: pipx run poetry --help

pipx vs venv

  • venv is part of Python's standard library in Python 3.2 and above
  • venv creates "virtual environments" which are sandboxed python installations
  • pipx heavily relies on the venv package

Example interaction: pipx installs packages to environments created with venv. pipx install black --verbose

pipx vs pyenv

  • pyenv manages python versions on your system. It helps you install versions like Python 3.6, 3.7, etc.
  • pipx installs packages in virtual environments and exposes their entrypoints on your PATH

Example interaction: Install a Python interpreter with pyenv, then install a package using pipx and that new interpreter: pipx install black --python=python3.11 where python3.11 was installed on the system with pyenv

pipx vs pipsi

  • pipx and pipsi both install packages in a similar way
  • pipx is under active development. pipsi is no longer maintained.
  • pipx always makes sure you're using the latest version of pip
  • pipx has the ability to run an app in one line, leaving your system unchanged after it finishes (pipx run APP) where pipsi does not
  • pipx has the ability to recursively install binaries from dependent packages
  • pipx adds more useful information to its output
  • pipx has more CLI options such as upgrade-all, reinstall-all, uninstall-all
  • pipx is more modern. It uses Python 3.6+, and the venv package in the Python3 standard library instead of the python 2 package virtualenv.
  • pipx works with Python homebrew installations while pipsi does not (at least on my machine)
  • pipx defaults to less verbose output
  • pipx allows you to see each command it runs by passing the --verbose flag
  • pipx prints emojis 😀

Example interaction: None. Either one or the other should be used. These tools compete for a similar workflow.

Migrating to pipx from pipsi

After you have installed pipx, run Why not do this with your new pipx installation?

pipx run

pipx vs brew

  • Both brew and pipx install cli tools
  • They install them from different sources. brew uses a curated repository specifically for brew, and pipx generally uses PyPI.

Example interaction: brew can be used to install pipx, but they generally don't interact much.

pipx vs npx

  • Both can run cli tools (npx will search for them in node_modules, and if not found run in a temporary environment. pipx run will search in __pypackages__ and if not found run in a temporary environment)
  • npx works with JavaScript and pipx works with Python
  • Both tools attempt to make running executables written in a dynamic language (JS/Python) as easy as possible
  • pipx can also install tools globally; npx cannot

Example interaction: None. These tools work for different languages.

pipx vs pip-run

pip-run is focused on running arbitrary Python code in ephemeral environments while pipx is focused on running Python binaries in ephemeral and non-ephemeral environments.

For example these two commands both install poetry to an ephemeral environment and invoke poetry with --help.

pipx run poetry --help
pip-run poetry -- -m poetry --help

Example interaction: None.

pipx vs fades

fades is a tool to run individual Python scripts inside automatically provisioned virtualenvs with their dependencies installed.

  • Both fades and pipx run allow specifying a script's dependencies in specially formatted comments, but the exact syntax differs. (pipx's syntax is standardized by a provisional specification, fades's syntax is not standardized.)
  • Both tools automatically set up reusable virtualenvs containing the necessary dependencies.
  • Both can download Python scripts/packages to execute from remote resources.
  • fades can only run individual script files while pipx can also run packages.

Example interaction: None.

pipx vs pae/pactivate

pae is a Bash command-line function distributed with pactivate that uses pactivate to create non-ephemeral environments focused on general use, rather than just running command-line applications.

There is a very detailed comparison here, but to briefly summarize:


  • Both create isolated environments without having to specify (and remember) a directory in which to store them.
  • Both allow you to use any Python interpreter available on your system (subject to version restrictions below).

pae advantages:

  • Supports all versions of Python from 2.7 upward. pipx requires ≥3.8.
  • Fewer dependencies. (See the detailed comparison for more information.)
  • Easier to have multiple versions of a single program and/or use different Python versions for a single program.
  • Somewhat more convenient for running arbitrary command-line programs in virtual environments, installing multiple packages in a single environment, and activating virtual environments.
  • Integrates well with source code repos using pactivate.

pae disadvantages:

  • Usable with Bash shell only.
  • Slightly less quick and convenient for installing/running command-line programs from single Python packages.
  • Can be slower than pipx at creating virtual environments.

Example interaction: None. Either one or the other should be used. These tools compete for a similar workflow.