Table of contents:

  1. Issue: permission denied errors during install
  2. Issue: My conda is broken and I want to fix it without blowing away the current installation
  3. Issue: Conda claims that a package is installed, but it appears not to be
  4. Issue: pkg_resources.DistributionNotFound: conda==3.6.1-6-gb31b0d4-dirty
  5. Issue: ValueError unknown locale: UTF-8 on OS X
  6. Issue: AttributeError or missing getproxies
  7. Issue: Shell commands open from wrong location
  8. Issue: Programs fail due to invoking conda Python and not system Python
  9. Issue: UnsatisfiableSpecifications error
  10. Issue: install a specific version from channels

Issue: permission denied errors during install

umask is a command that determines the mask settings that control how file permissions are set for newly created files. If you have a very restrictive umask (such as 077), you will see “permission denied” errors.

Resolution: set less restrictive umask before calling conda commands

Conda was intended as a user space tool, but often users need to use it in a global environment. One place this can go awry is with restrictive file permissions. Conda creates links when you install files that have to be read by others on the system.

To give yourself full permissions for files and directories, but prevent the group and other users from having access, before installing set the umask to 007, install conda, then return the umask to the original setting afterwards:

$ umask 007
$ conda install
$ umask 077

For more information on umask, please visit

Issue: My conda is broken and I want to fix it without blowing away the current installation

I am getting a conda error and want to reinstall Miniconda to fix it but when I try, it gives me the error that Miniconda (or Anaconda) is already installed and will not let me continue. I want to force the installation.

Resolution: Install Miniconda using the -f (force) option

Download and install the appropriate Miniconda for your computer operating system from the Miniconda download page using the force or -f option as shown:

bash -f

NOTE: Substitute the appropriate filename and version for your operating system.

NOTE: Be sure that you install to same install location as your existing install so it overwrites the core conda files and does not install a duplicate in a new folder.

Issue: Conda claims that a package is installed, but it appears not to be

Sometimes conda will claim that a package is already installed, but it will not appear to be, e.g., a Python package that gives ImportError.

There are a few possible causes of this issue:

Resolution: Make sure you are in the same conda environment as your package

conda info will tell you what environment is currently active (under “default environment”). You can verify that you are using the Python from the correct environment by running

import sys

Resolution: For Python packages, make sure you have not set the PYTHONPATH or PYTHONHOME variable

The command conda info -a will show you the values of these environment variables.

These environment variables cause Python to load files from locations other than the standard ones. Conda works best when these environment variables are not set, as their typical use-cases are obviated by Conda environments, and a common issue is that they will cause Python to pick up the wrong versions or broken versions of a library.

To unset them temporarily for the current terminal session, run unset PYTHONPATH. To unset them permanently, check for lines in the files ~/.bashrc, ~/.bash_profile, ~/.profile if you use bash, ~/.zshrc if you use zsh, or the file output by $PROFILE if you use PowerShell on Windows.

Resolution: For Python packages, remove any site-specific directories

Another possibility for Python are so-called site-specific files. These typically live in ~/.local on Unix. The full description of where site-specific packages can be found is in PEP 370. As with PYTHONPATH, Python may try importing packages from this directory, which can cause issues. The recommended fix is to remove the site-specific directory.

Resolution: For C libraries, unset the environment variables LD_LIBRARY_PATH on Linux and DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH on OS X

These act similarly to PYTHONPATH for Python. If they are set, they can cause libraries to be loaded from locations other than the Conda environment. Again, Conda environments obviate most use-cases for these variables, so it is recommended to unset them if they are set, unless you know what you are doing. conda info -a will show what these are set to (on the relevant operating system).

Resolution: Occasionally, an installed package will become corrupted

Conda works by unpacking the packages in the pkgs directory and then hard linking them to the environment. Sometimes these get corrupted somehow, breaking all environments that use them, and also any additional environments, since the same files are hard linked each time.

conda install -f will unarchive the package again and re-link it. It also does a md5 verification on the package (usually if this is different, it’s because your channels have changed and there is a different package with the same name, version, and build number). Note that this breaks the links to any other environments that already had this package installed, so you’ll have to reinstall it there too. It also means that running conda install -f a lot can use up a lot of disk space if you have a lot of environments. Note that the -f flag to conda install (--force) implies --no-deps, so conda install -f package will not reinstall any of the dependencies of package.

Issue: pkg_resources.DistributionNotFound: conda==3.6.1-6-gb31b0d4-dirty

Resolution: Force reinstall conda

A useful way to work off the development version of conda is to run python develop on a checkout of the conda git repository. However, if you are not regularly running git pull, it is a good idea to un-develop, as you will otherwise not get any regular updates to conda. The normal way to do this is to run python develop -u.

However, this command does not replace the conda script itself. With other packages, this is not an issue, as you can just reinstall them with conda, but conda cannot be used if conda is installed.

The fix is to use the ./bin/conda executable in the conda git repository to force reinstall conda, i.e., run ./bin/conda install -f conda. You can then verify with conda info that you have the latest version of conda, and not a git checkout (the version should not include any hashes).

Issue: ValueError unknown locale: UTF-8 on OS X

Resolution: Uncheck “set locale environment variables on startup” setting in Terminal settings

This is a bug in the OS X Terminal app that only shows up in certain locales (country/language combinations). Open Terminal in /Applications/Utilities and uncheck the box “Set locale environment variables on startup”.


This will set your LANG environment variable to be empty. This may cause terminal use to incorrect settings for your locale. The locale command in the Terminal will tell you what settings are used. To use the correct language, add a line to your bash profile (typically ~/.profile)

export LANG=your-lang

Replace your-lang with the correct locale specifier for your language. The command locale -a will show you all the specifiers. For example, the language code for US English is en_US.UTF-8. The locale affects what translations are used when they are available, and also how dates, currencies, and decimals are formatted.

Issue: AttributeError or missing getproxies

When running a command such as conda update ipython, you may get an AttributeError: 'module' object has no attribute 'getproxies'.

Resolution: Update requests and be sure PYTHONPATH is not set

This can be caused by an old version of requests, or by having the PYTHONPATH environment variable set.

conda info -a will show the requests version and various environment variables such as PYTHONPATH.

The requests version can be updated with pip install -U requests.

On Windows PYTHONPATH can be cleared in the environment variable settings. On OS X and Linux it can typically be cleared by removing it from the bash profile and restarting the shell.

Issue: Shell commands open from wrong location

When I run a command within a conda environment, conda does not access the correct package executable.

Resolution: Reactivate the environment or run hash -r (in bash) or rehash (in zsh)

The way both bash and zsh work is that when you enter a command, the shell searches the paths in PATH one by one until it finds the command. The shell then caches the location (this is called “hashing” in shell terminology), so that when you type the command again, the shell doesn’t have to search the PATH again.

The problem is that before you conda installed the program, you ran the command which loaded and hashed the one in some other location on the PATH (such as /usr/bin). Then you installed the program using conda install, but the shell still had the old instance hashed.

When you run source activate, conda automatically runs hash -r in bash and rehash in zsh to clear the hashed commands, so conda will find things in the new path on the PATH. But there is no way to do this when conda install is run (the command must be run inside the shell itself, meaning either you have to type the command yourself or source a file that contains the command).

This is a relatively rare problem, since this will only happen if you activate an environment or use the root environment, run a command from somewhere else, then conda install a program and try to run the program again without running source activate or source deactivate.

The command type command_name will always tell you exactly what is being run (this is better than which command_name, which ignores hashed commands and searches the PATH directly), and hash -r (in bash) or rehash (in zsh) will reset the hash, or you can run source activate.

Issue: Programs fail due to invoking conda Python and not system Python

After installing Anaconda or miniconda, programs that run python will switch from invoking the system Python to invoking the Python in the root conda environment. If these programs rely on the system Python to have certain configurations or dependencies that are not in the root conda environment Python, the programs may crash. For example, some users of the Cinnamon desktop environment on Linux Mint have reported these crashes.

Resolution: Fix the PATH environment variable

Edit your .bash_profile and .bashrc files so that the conda binary directory (such as ~/miniconda3/bin) is no longer added to the PATH environment variable. conda activate and deactivate may still be run by using their full path names such as ~/miniconda3/bin/conda.

You may also create a folder with symbolic links to conda activate and deactivate, and edit your .bash_profile or .bashrc file to add this folder to your PATH. Then running python will invoke the system Python, but running conda commands, source activate MyEnv, source activate root, or source deactivate will work normally.

After running source activate to activate any environment, including after running source activate root, running python will invoke the Python in the active conda environment.

Issue: UnsatisfiableSpecifications error

Not all conda package installation specifications are possible to satisfy.

For example, conda create -n tmp python=3 wxpython=3 produces an Unsatisfiable Specifications error because wxPython 3 depends on Python 2.7, so the specification to install Python 3 conflicts with the specification to install wxPython 3.

Resolution: Fix the conflicts in the installation request

When an unsatisfiable request is made to conda, conda shows a message such as this one:

The following specifications were found to be in conflict:
- python 3*
- wxpython 3* -> python 2.7*
Use "conda info <package>" to see the dependencies for each package.

This indicates that the specification to install wxpython 3 depends on installing Python 2.7, which conflicts with the specification to install python 3.

You can use “conda info wxpython” or “conda info wxpython=3” to show information about this package and its dependencies:

wxpython 3.0 py27_0
file name   : wxpython-3.0-py27_0.tar.bz2
name        : wxpython
version     : 3.0
build number: 0
build string: py27_0
channel     : defaults
size        : 34.1 MB
date        : 2014-01-10
fn          : wxpython-3.0-py27_0.tar.bz2
license_family: Other
md5         : adc6285edfd29a28224c410a39d4bdad
priority    : 2
schannel    : defaults
url         :
    python 2.7*

By examining the dependencies of each package, you should be able to determine why the installation request produced a conflict, and modify the request so it can be satisfied without conflicts. In our example, we could install wxPython with Python 2.7:

conda create -n tmp python=2.7 wxpython=3

Issue: install a specific version from channels

Suppose you have a specific need to install the Python cx_freeze module with Python 3.4. A first step is to create a Python 3.4 environment:

conda create -n py34 python=3.4

Using this environment you should first attempt:

conda install -n py34 cx_freeze

However, when you do this you’ll get the following error (at the time this was written, on the platform used):

Using Anaconda Cloud api site
Fetching package metadata .........
Solving package specifications: .
Error: Package missing in current osx-64 channels:
- cx_freeze

You can search for packages on with

  anaconda search -t conda cx_freeze

This is telling us that cx_freeze cannot be found, at least not in the default package channels. However there may be a community-created version available and if so we can search for it using exactly the command that is listed above.

$ anaconda search -t conda cx_freeze
Using Anaconda Cloud api site
Run 'anaconda show <USER/PACKAGE>' to get more details:
     Name                      |  Version | Package Types   | Platforms
     ------------------------- |   ------ | --------------- | ---------------
     inso/cx_freeze            |    4.3.3 | conda           | linux-64
     pyzo/cx_freeze            |    4.3.3 | conda           | linux-64, win-32, win-64, linux-32, osx-64
     silg2/cx_freeze           |    4.3.4 | conda           | linux-64
                                          : create standalone executables from Python scripts
     takluyver/cx_freeze       |    4.3.3 | conda           | linux-64
Found 4 packages

In this example, there are four different places we could try using to get it. None of them are officially supported or endorsed by Continuum, but members of the conda community have provided many valuable packages. If we want to go with public opinion then the web interface provides more information:

cx_freeze packages on

Notice that the pyzo organization has by far the most downloads, so you might choose to use their package. If so, you can add their organization’s channel by specifying it on the command line (as shown below):

$ conda create -c pyzo -n cxfreeze_py34 cx_freeze python=3.4
Using Anaconda Cloud api site
Fetching package metadata: ..........
Solving package specifications: .........

Package plan for installation in environment /Users/ijstokes/anaconda/envs/cxfreeze_py34:

The following packages will be downloaded:

    package                    |            build
    cx_freeze-4.3.3            |           py34_4         1.8 MB
    setuptools-20.7.0          |           py34_0         459 KB
                                           Total:         2.3 MB

The following NEW packages will be INSTALLED:

    cx_freeze:  4.3.3-py34_4
    openssl:    1.0.2h-0
    pip:        8.1.1-py34_1
    python:     3.4.4-0
    readline:   6.2-2
    setuptools: 20.7.0-py34_0
    sqlite:     3.9.2-0
    tk:         8.5.18-0
    wheel:      0.29.0-py34_0
    xz:         5.0.5-1
    zlib:       1.2.8-0

Now you have a software environment sandbox created with Python 3.4 and cx_freeze.