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Add Python dependencies to a program

Many Python programs require additional packages beyond those present on the system by default. While you could of course create your own runtime, there is a faster and easier solution. The official Python runtimes automatically include /opt/packages in the Python search path. Mounting a volume on this path will make any Python module or package present in that volume importable from your program. the Python search path (PYTHONPATH).

Using a dedicated volume for your dependencies has several advantages:

  • No need to create a custom runtime
  • Update your dependencies without updating all your program
  • Use the same dependencies for multiple programs.s

This tutorial will teach you how to create a volume for your Python dependencies and add it to your program.

Why use a dedicated volume?

Dependencies can be updated independently of your program. For example, you may want to update the version of a dependency without modifying the rest of your application. You could also reuse the same dependencies for multiple programs.

Set up your environment (Debian/Ubuntu Linux)

ℹ If you use macOS, see the section at the end of this tutorial to set up your environment.

sudo apt install python-pip python-venv squashfs-tools
pip install aleph-client

Create the volume

Install the packages in a directory. pip has an option to specify an alternative installation directory.

pip install -t my-packages -r requirements.txt

Create a squashfs volume:

mksquashfs /opt/packages packages.squashfs

Upload the dependency volume

To use this volume inside a program, we need the message hash storing this volume, meaning that we need to upload the volume to first.

Without IPFS (small size)

aleph file upload packages.squashfs


/opt/go-ipfs/ipfs daemon

ipfs add packages.squashfs
| added QmWWX6BaaRkRSr2iNdwH5e29ACPg2nCHHXTRTfuBmVm3Ga venv.squashfs

aleph file pin QmWWX6BaaRkRSr2iNdwH5e29ACPg2nCHHXTRTfuBmVm3Ga

Create your program

aleph program upload ./my-program main:app

Press Enter at the following prompt to use the default runtime:

Ref of runtime ? [bd79839bf96e595a06da5ac0b6ba51dea6f7e2591bb913deccded04d831d29f4]

Press Y to add extra volumes to your program:

Add volume ? [y/N] Y
Description: Python Packages
Mount: /opt/packages
Ref: 61f43ab261060ff94838dc94313a70cdb939a5fc6c99924b96d55dcc2c108d03
Use latest version ? [Y/n] Y

Finally, press Enter to skip adding more volumes.

Add volume ? [y/N]

Your program should be uploaded on

[macOS] Set up your environment with Vagrant

Setting up the environment to create your virtualenv volume is a little more complex on macOS. This section will guide you through the installation of VirtualBox and Vagrant to create a Linux development environment on your Mac.

Install VirtualBox

You will need VirtualBox, a free and open-source hosted hypervisor (or virtual machine manager) for the next step.

You can download and install it here .

Install Vagrant

Vagrant is an open-source software product for building and maintaining portable virtual software development environments based on VirtualBox. Run the following command to install it (make sure homebrew is installed on your Mac).

brew install vagrant

Once Vagrant is installed, go to your working repository and initialize Vagrant:

vagrant init boxomatic/debian-11

A Vagrantfile (in Ruby) will be created, you can consult it if you wish. Instantiate a new virtual machine with the following command:

vagrant up

If this does not work, check out you System Preferences > Security and Privacy and allow the "System software from developer" in the bottom of the window. Once the command finishes, your virtual machine will be booted and ready!

Set Vagrantfile configuration

Open the vagrantfile and add following "forwarded_port", guest:8000, host:8000