3 and 1/2 ways to try Python without installing it

There are many reasons you might not want to install Python on your system.  You may not have admin rights. Or you don’t want to install yet another program that will haunt your registry for all eternity. Or you aren’t sure about Python, and want to give it a try.

Whatever your reason, there are many ways to try Python without installing it. Specifically, there are 3 and 1/2 ways:

1. Portable Python distributions

I have tried two portable distributions:

Portable Python that comes with PyCharm, PyScripter and Ipython (command line).portable py


And then WinPython, that comes with IPython Gui, Spyder and Mercurial.winpython

Both are equally good, and you can choose any one based on which programs you like more.

These distributions also solve the other problem I’ve been talking of- installing Python on Windows. These distributions require no installation and can be run off USB drives.

2. Try Python online

I tried many different online Python editors, and Brython looks the most slick. It allows you to run both in interactive mode, and by giving a (online) file input. It supports Python 3.

http://www.brython.info/tests/console.html bry

While not as slick, Try Python supports 2.6: www.trypython.org/

3. Pythonanywhere.com

While pythonanywhere.com is an online service like the above, I have it in its own category. That’s because while the online editors are okay for playing around, pythonanywhere has so many features it blows them out of the water:

  • You can save your files
  • You get a account on a remote machine, so you can use it as your development machine
  • You can create Web servers in a few minutes. Flask, Django, Web2Py etc are supported.
  • There are thousands of preinstalled libraries
  • You get access to a MSQL database

The only downside is that you have to register, but the basic account is free. I found that the basic account is quite slow, and even if you upgrade to the $5/month option, you get a huge speed boost.

It is geared more towards web development, though you can use it for anything. For example, it took me ten seconds to create a basic Flask app:


Use a VM

I’m counting this approach as 1/2, as you really aren’t in Python land anymore (& using a VM is an extra hassle most people who just want to try Python won’t want). But it fixes a lot of the Windows install problems I’ve been talking about.

What, you can’t install Virtual Box either? Luckily, there’s a portable version for that too.

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