Installing a Newer Version of Python on Amazon EC2

EC2 ships with Python 3.7.11, but some might need a newer version

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I recently worked on a Python project that used Python 3.11 and Poetry. When I went to deploy it on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud, better known by its moniker EC2, I ran into a major hurdle. EC2, running Amazon Linux 2, had Python 3.7.11. The project required 3.11, so I needed to compile Python from source.


I started by updating packages in YUM, the package manager for Amazon Linux 2, with sudo yum update. Then I installed some development dependencies, namely the aptly-named "Development Tools" group and a few others with the following command.

sudo yum groupinstall "Development Tools"
sudo yum install libffi-devel bzip2-devel

One more dependency is needed: OpenSSL. The openssl-devel package included in the repositories with Amazon Linux 2 is 1.0.7, but Python 3 currently requires 1.1.1 or newer. This version is available through the openssl11-devel package. To install it, uninstall openssl-devel, then install openssl11-devel.

sudo yum uninstall openssl-devel
sudo yum install openssl11-devel


With the development dependencies installed, the next step was to download the Python source code. The Python Software Foundation maintains tarballs of every Python version released, and they're available through this user-friendly page or their plain directory listing. Either way, find the Python version your project needs, then copy the link to the file that ends in .tgz, which is the gzipped tarball. With the link to the Python source in hand, download it with wget, then extract the archive.

sudo wget
sudo tar xzf Python-3.11.1.tgz
cd Python-3.11.1

Next, run the configure script, which will check to ensure that the necessary dependencies are installed: sudo ./configure --enable-optimizations. The --enable-optimizations flag optimizes the binary. After that finishes, there will be a Makefile. Before proceeding, decide whether this new version should replace the system version, or if it should be installed alongside. I recommend the latter, and that's what I used. If you decided to replace the system version, use sudo make install. If you decided to install it alongside, use sudo make altinstall. On my t2.micro instance, it took about 35 minutes to build.

Shell Configuration

Python installs to /usr/local/bin, but the PATH doesn't contain it. To add this folder to the PATH, open the ~/.bashrc file in your favourite text editor and add the following to the end.

export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH

Reload the .bashrc file by running source ~/.bashrc, then try opening a Python shell with python3.11. Replace 3.11 with whatever Python version was installed.


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Thank you for reading!