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Installing EasyBuild

Before deep diving into the wonderful world of EasyBuild and getting your hands dirty with the hands on exercises coming up in this tutorial, you will need to install EasyBuild.

In this section we outline three different ways of doing this, and also the things you should pay attention to. By the end of this section, you will have a functional EasyBuild installation that you can use for the remainder of this tutorial.




The main target platform for EasyBuild is Linux, since it is heavily focused on installing software on HPC system where Linux is dominant operating system (to the point where 100% of the current Top500 list of supercomputers are running Linux).

EasyBuild is also compatible with macOS, but the included easyconfig files are heavily focused on Linux so most software installations supported by EasyBuild won't work out-of-the-box on macOS. You can still use the EasyBuild command line interface on macOS for other tasks though, such as development or contributing back to the project.


EasyBuild is implemented in Python, and is compatible with both Python 2.7 and Python 3.5+ (that is, Python 3.5 or a newer version of Python 3).

In the near future compatibility with Python 2.7 and 3.5 will be dropped in EasyBuild, so we recommend using Python 3.6, or newer.

To check which Python version you have, use:

python -V


It is possible that the python command is not available, which will trigger an error like:

-bash: python: command not found

If that is the case, consider using the python3 command (or similar) instead.

No additional Python packages are required by EasyBuild, the ones that come with the standard Python distribution are sufficient. Some additional Python packages can be leveraged for specific features. More on that later.

Environment modules tool

An environment modules tool is required for using EasyBuild.

We strongly recommend using Lmod, a Lua-based modern environment modules implementation and the most commonly used environment modules tool in the EasyBuild community. Other implementations, like the original Tcl-based one, are also supported.

To check if you have a modules tool installed, use:

module --version

If this produces output that starts with something like "Modules based on Lua: Version 8.7.23" you have Lmod installed, which is the default modules tool used by EasyBuild, and you are all set for installing and using EasyBuild. Any sufficiently recent Lmod version (8.x or even 7.x) should be fine.

If you see output that starts with a line like "VERSION=3.2.10" or "Modules Release 5.2.0", you have the original Tcl-based environment modules tool installed and EasyBuild will need to be configured to use it after installation.

If the module function is not defined you do not have a modules tool installed, or your environment is not properly set up to use it. In this case, please refer to the EasyBuild documentation here for more information.

EasyBuild as a Python package

EasyBuild consists of a number of interdependent Python packages, and is available via both GitHub at, as well as via the standard Python Package Index (PyPI) at".

As you may be aware the Python packaging ecosystem is bit convoluted, which is reflected in the many different ways in which you can install a Python package. In addition, EasyBuild is packaged in 3 components (framework, easyblocks, easyconfigs) which slightly complicates the installation.

Nevertheless, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to install EasyBuild (and even if you are, that's OK too), so don't worry.

You can install EasyBuild just like you can install any other Python software that is released via the standard Python Package Index (PyPI), through one of the standard Python installation tools (like pip, virtualenv, pipenv, ...). And since EasyBuild is a software installation tool in its own right, we actually have a couple of additional tricks up our sleeve!

Python 2 or Python 3?

For EasyBuild it does not matter whether you install it on top of Python 2 or Python 3. The functionality provided is identical. However, Python 2 is end-of-life and compatibility with Python 2.7 and 3.5 will be removed soon in EasyBuild, so we strongly recommend using Python 3.6 or a more recent Python 3 version if you have the choice.

By default EasyBuild will use the python command to run, but you can control this if needed via $EB_PYTHON.

Installing EasyBuild

We present three methods for installing EasyBuild. It is up to you which one you prefer, each result in a fully functional EasyBuild installation.

Time to get your hands dirty!

Method 1: Using pip

Since EasyBuild is released as a Python package on PyPI you can install it using pip, the most commonly used tool for installing Python packages.

You may need to take additional steps after the installation, depending on the exact installation command.


There are various other ways of installing Python packages, which we won't cover here. If you are familiar with other tools like virtualenv or pipenv, feel free to use those instead to install EasyBuild.

Running pip install

Installing EasyBuild with pip is as simple as running the following command:

pip install easybuild

However, you may need to slightly change this command depending on the context and your personal preferences:

  • To install EasyBuild system-wide, you can use sudo (if you have admin privileges):

    sudo pip install easybuild

  • To install EasyBuild in your personal home directory, you can use the --user option:

    pip install --user easybuild
    This will result in an EasyBuild installation in $HOME/.local/.

  • To install EasyBuild in a specific directory you can use the --prefix option:

    pip install --prefix _PREFIX_ easybuild
    In this command, you should replace '_PREFIX_' with the location where you want to have EasyBuild installed (for example, $HOME/tools or /tmp/$USER).

pip vs pip3

On systems where both Python 2 and Python 3 are installed you may also have different pip commands available. Or maybe pip is not available at all, and only "versioned" pip commands like pip3 are available.

If you (only) have pip3 available, you can replace pip with pip3 in any of the pip install commands above.

If you want to ensure that you are using the pip installation that corresponds to the Python 3 installation that you intend to use, you can use python3 -m pip rather than pip3.

Updating your environment

If you used the --user or --prefix option in the pip install command, or if you installed EasyBuild with a pip version that does not correspond to your default Python installation, you will need to update your environment to make EasyBuild ready for use. This is not required if you did a system-wide installation in a standard location with the default Python version.


Keep in mind that you will have to make these environment changes again if you start a new shell session. To avoid this, you can update the .bashrc shell startup script in your home directory.

Updating $PATH

Update the $PATH environment variable to make sure the eb command is available:

export PATH=_PREFIX_/bin:$PATH
Replace '_PREFIX_' in this command with the directory path where EasyBuild was installed into (use $HOME/.local if you used pip install --user).

This is not required if you installed EasyBuild in a standard system location.

You can check with "which eb" or "command -v eb" to determine whether or not you need to update the $PATH environment variable.


If you installed EasyBuild to a non-standard location using pip install --prefix, you also need to update the Python search path environment variable $PYTHONPATH to instruct Python where it can find the EasyBuild Python packages.

This is not required if you used the --user option, since Python will automatically consider $HOME/.local when searching for installed Python packages, or if you installed EasyBuild in a standard system-wide location.

Update $PYTHONPATH by running a command like:

export PYTHONPATH=_PREFIX_/lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH

Here, you need to replace the X and Y with the major and minor version of your Python installation, which you can determine by running python -V. For example, if you are using Python 3.6, make sure you are using /python3.6/ in the command to update $PYTHONPATH.

And of course, you again need to replace '_PREFIX_' with the installation prefix where EasyBuild was installed into.

For example:

# update $PYTHONPATH if EasyBuild was installed in $HOME/tools with Python 3.6
export PYTHONPATH=$HOME/tools/lib/python3.6/site-packages:$PYTHONPATH

Setting $EB_PYTHON

If you want to control which Python version is used to run EasyBuild, you can specify the name or the full path to the python command that should be used by the eb command via the $EB_PYTHON environment variable.

This may be required when you installing EasyBuild with a version of pip that does not correspond with the default Python version.

For example, to ensure that the eb command uses python3.6:

export EB_PYTHON=python3.6


To determine which python commands are being considered by the eb command, you can define the $EB_VERBOSE environment variable. For example:

$ EB_VERBOSE=1 eb --version
>> Considering 'python3'...
>> 'python3' version: 3.6.8, which matches Python 3 version requirement (>= 3.5)
>> 'python3' is able to import 'easybuild.main', so retaining it
>> Selected Python command: python3 (/usr/bin/python3)
>> python3 -m easybuild.main --version
This is EasyBuild 4.7.1 (framework: 4.7.1, easyblocks: 4.7.1) on host example

Method 2: Installing EasyBuild with EasyBuild


This section covers an alternative method for installing EasyBuild.

If you have installed EasyBuild through pip already, you can skip ahead to the next section.

If you prefer having EasyBuild available through an environment module file, you can consider installing EasyBuild with EasyBuild. This can be done in 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Installing EasyBuild with pip into a temporary location (only needed if EasyBuild is not installed yet)
  • Step 2: Using EasyBuild to install EasyBuild as a module
  • Step 3: Loading the EasyBuild module

Step 1: Installing EasyBuild into a temporary location with pip

If you don't have EasyBuild installed yet, you need to install it in a temporary location first. The recommended way of doing this is using pip.

For example, to install EasyBuild into a subdirectory /tmp/$USER using Python 3.6:

# pick installation prefix, and install EasyBuild into it
export EB_TMPDIR=/tmp/$USER/eb_tmp
python3.6 -m pip install --ignore-installed --prefix $EB_TMPDIR easybuild
# update environment to use this temporary EasyBuild installation
export PATH=$EB_TMPDIR/bin:$PATH
export PYTHONPATH=$EB_TMPDIR/lib*/python3.6/site-packages/:$PYTHONPATH
export EB_PYTHON=python3.6

Step 2: Using EasyBuild to install EasyBuild

Once you have a working (recent) temporary EasyBuild installation, you can use it to install EasyBuild as a module. Usually this is done in the location where you would like to install other software too.

You can use the eb --install-latest-eb-release command for this, combined with the --prefix option to control which directories are used by EasyBuild for the installation.

For example, to install the latest version of EasyBuild as a module into $HOME/easybuild:

eb --install-latest-eb-release --prefix $HOME/easybuild


You may see a harmless deprecation warning popping up when performing this installation, just ignore it.

Step 3: Loading the EasyBuild module

Once step 2 is completed, you should be able to load the module that was generated alongside the EasyBuild installation. You will need to do this every time you start a new shell session in which you want to use EasyBuild.

First, make the module available by running the following command (which will update the module search path environment variable $MODULEPATH):

module use _PREFIX_/modules/all

Replace '_PREFIX_' with the path to the directory that you used when running step 2 (for example, $HOME/easybuild).

Then, load the EasyBuild module to update your current shell environment and make EasyBuild available for use:

module load EasyBuild

Note that in this case, we don't need to make any changes to our environment for EasyBuild to work correctly. The environment module file that was generated by EasyBuild specifies all changes that need to be made, which includes making sure that the right Python version is used by the eb command.

Method 3: Development setup

If you are planning to make changes to EasyBuild, or if you prefer using the latest bleeding edge version of EasyBuild that is being developed, you can consider cloning the 3 main EasyBuild repositories from GitHub, and updating your environment to run EasyBuild from there.

This can be done as follows (into $HOME/easybuild):

mkdir -p $HOME/easybuild
cd $HOME/easybuild

# clone EasyBuild repositories from GitHub
git clone
git clone
git clone
# update environment for running EasyBuild from there
export PATH=$HOME/easybuild/easybuild-framework:$PATH
export PYTHONPATH=$HOME/easybuild/easybuild-framework:$HOME/easybuild/easybuild-easyblocks:$HOME/easybuild/easybuild-easyconfigs:$PYTHONPATH

# control which Python command is used to run EasyBuild
export EB_PYTHON=python3

Verifying the installation

Regardless of how EasyBuild was installed, you can now run a couple of basic commands to verify the installation:

Checking the version

To check which EasyBuild version you have installed, run:

eb --version

The output should match with the latest EasyBuild version, unless you installed the development version from method 3 above where the version string will include dev and git hashes for the framework and easyblock repositories.

Consulting the help output

You can consult the help output of the eb command, which produces a long list of available options along with a short informative message.

eb --help

Showing the active EasyBuild configuration

To inspect the current EasyBuild configuration, you can use this command:

eb --show-config

This should tell you that EasyBuild (ab)uses $HOME/.local/easybuild as a default location. More on configuring EasyBuild in the next part of the tutorial.

System information

You can let EasyBuild collect and print some information about the system you are using it on (OS, CPU, Python, etc.) using this command:

eb --show-system-info

Updating EasyBuild

Before we wrap up here, a brief word about updating EasyBuild.

Once you have EasyBuild installed, the easiest way to update to a newer version is by instructing EasyBuild to install the latest available version as a module:

eb --install-latest-eb-release

This will result in a new EasyBuild installation, which is entirely separate from the EasyBuild installation you are currently using (so it is not an in-place update). The location where this new EasyBuild version will be installed is determined by the active EasyBuild configuration.

If you have installed EasyBuild through pip, and you prefer updating that installation (in-place), you can use pip install --upgrade easybuild (perhaps using additional options like --user or --prefix, depending on how you installed EasyBuild with pip originally).


Install EasyBuild in your home directory.

Make sure that the EasyBuild installation uses the python3 command to run, rather than the standard python command.

Choose your own adventure, or try all these installation methods!

  • Install EasyBuild with pip (or another very similar command...) using either the --user or --prefix option;
  • Perform a (manual) "bootstrap" installation into $HOME/easybuild, as outlined in installation method 2;
  • Set up a development installation;

Check that the installation works by running the verification commands outlined above.

Make sure you have a working EasyBuild installation before proceeding with the rest of the tutorial!

next: Configuring EasyBuild - (back to overview page)

Last update: April 20, 2023