How to Install Python 3 on Ubuntu 18.04 or 20.04

December 12, 2019


Python is a popular programming language often used to write scripts for operating systems. It’s versatile enough for use in web development and app design.

In this tutorial you will learn how to install Python 3.8 on Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 20.04.

How to install Python 3 on Ubuntu.


  • A system running Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 20.04
  • A user account with sudo privileges
  • Access to a terminal window/command-line (CtrlAltT)
  • Make sure your environment is configured to use Python 3.8

Option 1: Install Python 3 Using apt (Easier)

This process uses the apt package manager to install Python. There are fewer steps, but it’s dependent on a third party hosting software updates. You may not see new releases as quickly on a third-party repository.

Most factory versions of Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 20.04 come with Python pre-installed. Check your version of Python by entering the following:

python --version

If the revision level is lower than 3.7.x, or if Python is not installed, continue to the next step.

Step 1: Update and Refresh Repository Lists

Open a terminal window, and enter the following:

sudo apt update

Step 2: Install Supporting Software

The software-properties-common package gives you better control over your package manager by letting you add PPA (Personal Package Archive) repositories. Install the supporting software with the command:

sudo apt install software-properties-common
install additional software for python

Step 3: Add Deadsnakes PPA

Deadsnakes is a PPA with newer releases than the default Ubuntu repositories. Add the PPA by entering the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa

The system will prompt you to press enter to continue. Do so, and allow it to finish. Refresh the package lists again:

sudo apt update

Step 4: Install Python 3

Now you can start the installation of Python 3.8 with the command:

sudo apt install python3.8

Allow the process to complete and verify the Python version was installed sucessfully::

python --version
Check Python version to confirm installation.

Option 2: Install Python 3.7 From Source Code (Latest Version)

Use this process to download and compile the source code from the developer. It’s a bit more complicated, but the trade-off is accessing a newer release of Python.

Step 1: Update Local Repositories

To update local repositories, use the command:

sudo apt update

Step 2: Install Supporting Software

Compiling a package from source code requires additional software.

Enter the following to install the required packages for Python:

sudo apt install build-essential zlib1g-dev libncurses5-dev libgdbm-dev libnss3-dev libssl-dev libreadline-dev libffi-dev wget
install additional software for python

Step 3: Download the Latest Version of Python Source Code

To download the newest release of Python Source Code, navigate to the /tmp directory and use the wget command:

cd /tmp
Download the Latest Version of Python Source Code.

Note: The source code is different from the software found on the main download page. At the time this article was written, Python 3.7.5 was the latest version available.

Step 4: Extract Compressed Files

Next, you need to extract the tgz file you downloaded, with the command:

tar -xf Python-3.8.3.tgz

Step 5: Test System and Optimize Python

Before you install the software, make sure you test the system and optimize Python.

The ./configure command evaluates and prepares Python to install on your system. Using the --optimization option speeds code execution by 10-20%.

Enter the following:

cd python-3.8.3
./configure --enable-optimizations

This step can take up to 30 minutes to complete.

Step 6: Install a Second Instance of Python (recommended)

To create a second installation of Python 3.835, in addition to your current Python installation, enter the following:

sudo make altinstall

It is recommended that you use the altinstall method. Your Ubuntu system may have software packages dependent on Python 2.x.

(Option) Overwrite Default Python Installation 

To install Python 3.8.3 over the top of your existing Python, enter the following:

sudo make install

Allow the process to complete.

Step 7: Verify Python Version

Enter the following:

python3 --version

Note: If you are starting with Python and are still looking for the right IDE or editor, see our comprehensive overview of the best Python IDEs and code editors.

Using Different Versions of Python

If you used the altinstall method, you have two different versions of Python on your system at the same time. Each installation uses a different command.

Use the python command to run commands for any older Python 2.x version on your system. For example:

python --version

To run a command using the newer version, use python3. For example:

python3 --version

It is possible to have multiple major (3.x or 2.x) versions of Python on your system. If you have Python 3.7.x and Python 3.8.x both installed, use the second digit to specify which version you want to use:

python3.7 --version
python3.8 --version


You should now have a working installation of Python 3 on your Ubuntu system. Next, consider installing PIP for Python if you haven’t already.

With everything set, you can start with some basics like getting the current time and date in Python, learning file handling in Python with built-in methods, or learning how to use Python struct functions.

Was this article helpful?
Sofija Simic
Sofija Simic is an experienced Technical Writer. Alongside her educational background in teaching and writing, she has had a lifelong passion for information technology. She is committed to unscrambling confusing IT concepts and streamlining intricate software installations.
Next you should read
How to Check Python Version in Linux, Mac, & Windows
October 1, 2019

Python is a popular programming language with different versions organized by release date...
Read more
How to Get the Current Date and Time in Python
August 14, 2019

The article shows you how to create a basic Python script that displays the current date and time...
Read more
How to Install Latest Version Of Python 3 on CentOS 7
March 12, 2019

Python is a popular, stable, and well-performing programming language. CentOS 7 uses Python 2.7.5, but as...
Read more
How To Install PIP to Manage Python Packages On Windows
November 30, 2023

PIP for Python is a utility to manage PyPI package installations from the command line. This tutorial will...
Read more