COMP0233: Research Software Engineering With Python



Package Manager

Linux users should be able to use their package manager to install all of this software (if you’re using Linux, we assume you won’t have any trouble with these requirements).

However note that if you are running an older Linux distribution you may get older versions with different look and features. A recent Linux distribution is recommended.

Python via package manager

Recent versions of Ubuntu pack mostly up to date versions of all needed packages. The version of IPython might be slightly out of date. Advanced users may wish to upgrade this using pip or a manual install. On Ubuntu you should ensure that the following packages are installed using apt-get.

  • python3-numpy
  • python3-scipy
  • python3-pytest
  • python3-matplotlib
  • python3-pip
  • jupyter
  • ipython3
  • ipython3-notebook

Older distributions may have outdated versions of specific packages. Other linux distributions most likely also contain the needed python packages but again they may also be outdated.

Python via Anaconda

We recommend you use Anaconda, a complete independent scientific python distribution.

Download Anaconda for linux with your web browser, choose the python 3.7 version. Open a terminal window, go to the place where the file was downloaded and type:

bash Anaconda3-

and then press tab. The name of the file you just downloaded should appear.

Press enter. You will follow the text-only prompts. To move through the text, press the space key. Type yes and press enter to approve the license. Press enter to approve the default location for the files. Type yes and press enter to prepend Anaconda to your PATH (this makes the Anaconda distribution the default Python).

You can test the installation by opening a new terminal and checking that:

which python

shows a path where you installed anaconda.

Python via Enthought Canopy

Alternatively you may install a complete independent scientific python distribution. One of these is Enthought Canopy.

The Enthought Canopy python distribution exists in two different versions. A basic free version with a limited number of packages (Canopy express) and a non free full version. The full version can be obtained free of charge for academic use. Register with Enthought Scientific Computing using your UCL e-mail address for an academic licence.

You may then use your Enthought user account to sign into the installed Canopy application and activate the full academic version. Canopy comes with a package manager from where it is possible to install and update a large number of python packages. The packages installed by default should cover our needs.


If git is not already available on your machine you can try to install it via your distribution package manager (e.g. apt-get or yum), for example:

sudo apt-get install git


Many different text editors suitable for programming are available. If you don’t already have a favourite, you could look at Visual Studio Code. Check their setup page for detailed instructions.

For a better git integration we suggest the git graph plugin.

Regardless of which editor you have chosen you should configure git to use it. Executing something like this in a terminal should work:

git config --global core.editor NameofYourEditorHere

The default shell is usually bash but if not you can get to bash by opening a terminal and typing bash.