installing python

At the end of the day, computers only understand ones and zeros (a.k.a. binary). At some point, any program you run must be converted into binary. However, writing programs in binary is a real drag, so instead we write them in various programming languages. Then we use another program that automatically converts the stuff we type into binary. For Python, this converter program is called the Python interpreter. You must download and install it:

  • Ubuntu Linux: Type sudo apt-get install python3 in the terminal.
  • Windows: Download and run the Windows installer (but see the note below).
  • OS X: Download and run the OS X installer.

On Windows, make sure you check the box that says “Add Python 3.6 to PATH”:

Python installer

Once you have it installed, open the command line interface and type python --version. If you’re on Linux and it doesn’t work, try python3 --version. You should get something like this:

$ python --version
Python 3.5.2


If you are on Windows and you didn’t check “Add Python 3.6 to PATH”, the python command won’t be available. Instead you could type py --version, or you could reinstall Python and make sure to check the box this time.

Also, the $ is my prompt. It’s the equivalent of C:\Users\jacob> on Windows. You can ignore it; you don’t need to type it.

previous: the command line next: the python shell