Conda is a package, dependency and environment management system that is available via the Anaconda distribution. It is the recommended way for users to manage their own environments and supports a wide range of languages: Python, R, Ruby, Lua, Scala, Java, JavaScript, C/ C++, FORTRAN.

Conda as a package manager helps you find and install packages. If you need a package that requires a different version of Python, you do not need to switch to a different environment manager, because conda is also an environment manager. With just a few commands, you can set up a totally separate environment to run that different version of Python, while continuing to run your usual version of Python in your normal environment.

Using different conda environments for different projects/applications is highly recommended and certainly offers many advantages:

  • conda environments integrate management of different Python versions, including installation and updating of Python itself. On comparison, virtualenvs must be created upon an existing, externally managed Python executable.
  • conda environments can track non-python dependencies; for example seamlessly managing dependencies and parallel versions of essential tools like LAPACK or OpenSSL
  • Rather than environments built on symlinks – which break the isolation of the virtualenv and can be flimsy at times for non-Python dependencies – conda-envs are true isolated environments within a single executable path.

A diagram showing how Conda works

Using conda

On the login node run:

          module load anaconda3/personal

if its the first time loading you will need to run:


Conda basic commands
Get a list of all my environments, active environment is shown with * conda env list
Create a new environment named py27, install Python 2.7 conda create -n py27 python=2.7
activate an environment source activate ENV_NAME
List all packages and versions installed in active environment

conda list

Search the Anaconda repository for a package conda search PACKAGENAME
Install a package included in Anaconda conda install PACKAGENAME

 For a full list of commands please look at the conda cheat sheet provided by Anaconda.