Install Visual Studio Code on Ubuntu for Python

The commands on the following page has been performed and tested with the following versions:

Update your system

Start by updating your system:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Install Visual Studio Code

Install Visual Studio Code with Ubuntu Software. Other methods can be used, but Ubuntu Software remains the more stable option.

Install Python

Python is already installed on Ubuntu. But be carrefull, two versions coexist on ubuntu: Python 2.7.17 and Python 3.6.9. The default version is the older one. I advise against using this old version. Instead, I strongly recommand using virtual environments with Python 3.

Install the Python paquet manager pip:

sudo apt install python-pip


sudo apt install python3-pip

Virtual environment

Install virtualenv with the following command:

pip3 install virtualenv

Create a virtual environment for your project and specify this environment will use Python 3.

virtualenv ~/path/to/project -p /usr/bin/python3

You'll have to run the previous command everytime you'll create a new Python project. Activate your environment:

source ~/path/to/project/bin/activate

The name of the environment should appear at the beginning of your command line:

Python 3 virtual environment activated

Validate that everything is fine by checking the versions:

(python3) $ python --version
Python 3.6.9
(python3) $ pip --version
pip 20.0.2 from /home/philippe/sources/python3/lib/python3.6/site-packages/pip (python 3.6)

You can deactivate the virtual environment with the following command:


Configure Visual Studio Code for Python

Launch Visual Studio Code. In File>Open folder [Ctrl-K Ctrl-O], sélect the folder where you created your virtual environment. Create a Python script named and add the following code:

import sys
print (sys.version)
print (sys.version_info)

Run your script by hitting CTRL-F5. Visual Studio Code should ask you if you want to install pylint for checking code quality and suggest best practices. I strongly recommand to accept and install pylint.

You script should display something like:

3.6.9 (default, Nov  7 2019, 10:44:02) 
[GCC 8.3.0]
sys.version_info(major=3, minor=6, micro=9, releaselevel='final', serial=0)

Python 3 is running in your virtual environment in Visual Studio Code. You can even set break points and debug your application by hitting F5 instead of Ctrl-F5.


See also

Last update : 02/21/2020