after updating to ubuntu 20.04 whenever i type "pip install (some package)" or "pip --version" it says

 adam@daryy:~$ pip3

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/local/bin/pip3", line 5, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli.main import main
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/main.py", line 10, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli.autocompletion import autocomplete
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/autocompletion.py", line 9, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli.main_parser import create_main_parser
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/main_parser.py", line 7, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli import cmdoptions
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/cmdoptions.py", line 19, in <module>
    from distutils.util import strtobool
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'distutils.util'
Error in sys.excepthook:
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/apport_python_hook.py", line 63, in apport_excepthook
    from apport.fileutils import likely_packaged, get_recent_crashes
  File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/apport/__init__.py", line 5, in <module>
    from apport.report import Report
  File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/apport/report.py", line 30, in <module>
    import apport.fileutils
  File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/apport/fileutils.py", line 23, in <module>
    from apport.packaging_impl import impl as packaging
  File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/apport/packaging_impl.py", line 23, in <module>
    import apt
  File "/usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/apt/__init__.py", line 23, in <module>
    import apt_pkg
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'apt_pkg'

Original exception was:
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/local/bin/pip3", line 5, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli.main import main
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/main.py", line 10, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli.autocompletion import autocomplete
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/autocompletion.py", line 9, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli.main_parser import create_main_parser
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/main_parser.py", line 7, in <module>
    from pip._internal.cli import cmdoptions
  File "/usr/local/lib/python3.7/dist-packages/pip/_internal/cli/cmdoptions.py", line 19, in <module>
    from distutils.util import strtobool
ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'distutils.util'

even when i normally type "pip3" or "pip"

The module not found likely means the packages aren't installed.

sudo apt-get install python3-distutils

sudo apt-get install python3-apt

If they're already installed you can try to fix anything that may have been messed up in the upgrade with...

sudo apt-get install --reinstall package-name
  • 5
    i've already tried this doesnt work – Rock Life May 15 '20 at 17:35
  • I notice python 3.7 listed in those messages. Ubuntu 20.04 uses python 3.8.2 as default. What does python3 --version return? – Viginti May 15 '20 at 19:45
  • 1
    Turns out distutils was simply missing from my system. +1 – Soutzikevich Jun 29 '20 at 12:09
  • 1
    @rock-life could it be've been bitten by debian's bug #979819 which kicks in when you want to install an older Python version than the one your Ubuntu/Debian comes with? Check this workaround. – ankostis Jan 21 at 22:07
  • 1
    thanks, it worked for me today. – Omkar Nath Singh Jul 1 at 4:57

Debian has decided that distutils is not a core python package, so it is not included in the last versions of debian and debian-based OSes. You should be able to do sudo apt install python3-distutils and it should work.

However, it did not work for me. I use Parrot OS, which is, as Ubuntu, Debian based. I upgraded my system and pip stopped working for python3.7, and I also got the error ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'distutils.util'

I tried a lot of stuff to fix it and to reinstall distutils, and I found out by pure luck, that pip3, for python3.8 did work. I then tried python3.7 -m pip3 -V, got /usr/bin/python3.7: No module named pip3 so I decided to have a look in the /usr/lib files.

I looked at /usr/lib/python3/dist-packages and everything looked fine. Then I looked at /usr/lib/python3.7 and saw the folder distutil.

I opened it, and saw the __pycache__, the __init__.py file and a version.py file. I had no idea how many files should be in there, or what the code should be, but I knew that those two files were either wrong or missing another file.

Then I had a look at what was inside /usr/lib/python3.8/distutil and it was totally different. I found the following files:

command                          Folder
__pycache__                      Folder
archive_util.py                  Python script
bcppcompiler.py                  Python script
cmd.py                           Python script
config.py                        Python script
core.py                          Python script
cygwinccompiler.py               Python script
debug.py                         Python script
dep_util.py                      Python script
errors.py                        Python script
extension.py                     Python script
fancy_getopt.py                  Python script
filelist.py                      Python script
file_util.py                     Python script
__init__.py                      Python script
log.py                           Python script
msvc9compiler.py                 Python script
_msvccompiler.py                 Python script
msvccompiler.py                  Python script
README                           Plain text file
spawn.py                         Python script
sysconfig.py                     Python script
text_file.py                     Python script
unixccompiler.py                 Python script
util.py                          Python script
version.py                       Python script
versionpredicate.py              Python script

This was a lot more promising, and since pip3 did work, I assumed that this distutils worked too, and I tried to copy it to the python3.7 folder by running this command:

sudo cp -r /usr/lib/python3.8/distutil /usr/lib/python3.7/distutil

Then I tried again python3.7 -m pip -V and got

pip 20.0.2 from /usr/lib/python3/dist-packages/pip (python 3.7)

Then I tried installing some modules and everything works fine. I hope this is helpful.

  • Actually a symlink would suffice: sudo rm -rf /usr/lib/python3.8/distutil && sudo ln -s /usr/lib/python3.8/distutil /usr/lib/python3.7/distutil BUT for really complicated combinations, read the notes at the bottom of this workaround. – ankostis Jan 21 at 22:10
  • cp -r /usr/lib/python3.9/distutils /usr/lib/python3.7/distutils this worked for me. – Petr Javorik Mar 16 at 14:11

I came here for an answer and didn't find, but I fixed it myself.

Some time ago I played with python version by using update-alternatives, also I believe I manually edited some scripts and now, after updating from 16.04 to 20.04, I had the same problem as you. I am not sure if my fix is "proper", yet it works for me:

~$ which pip3
~$ vim /home/patryk/.local/bin/pip3

I changed the first line from:




Helped in my case.

  • This really worked! Thanks so much, I didn't need to do any of the other suggestions, this fixed my problem instantly. – Geoff Davids Jan 22 at 21:16

I got this problem after upgrading to Ubuntu 20.04. I had a virtual environment depending on Python 3.7, and, to avoid re-installing the whole virtual environment for Python 3.8, I fixed distutils on Python 3.7:

I added the deadsnake PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa
sudo apt-get update

And then installed the distutils package for Python 3.7:

sudo apt install python3.7-distutils

Note: for some reason I had an error installing the latter, that I solved this way:

sudo dpkg -i --force-overwrite /var/cache/apt/archives/python3.7-distutils_3.7.9-1+focal1_all.deb
sudo apt-get -f install 
  • 1
    Thanks for the tip, all I needed to do was to run sudo apt install python3.9-distutils – jgosar Feb 3 at 6:34

Ensure install appropriate version based on python version, e.g. to get all available versions (assume using apt package manager):

$ apt-cache search distutils
python-setuptools - Python Distutils Enhancements
python-setuptools-doc - Python Distutils Enhancements (documentation)
python3-d2to1 - Python3 support for distutils2-like setup.cfg files as package metadata
python3-setuptools - Python3 Distutils Enhancements
pypy-setuptools - PyPy Distutils Enhancements
python-d2to1 - Python support for distutils2-like setup.cfg files as package metadata
python-distlib - low-level components of python distutils2/packaging
python-distutils-extra - enhancements to the Python build system
python-stsci.distutils - Python packaging utilities for STScI's packages
python3-distlib - low-level components of python distutils2/packaging
python3-distutils-extra - enhancements to the Python3 build system
python3-stdeb - Python to Debian source package conversion plugins for distutils
python3-stsci.distutils - Python3 packaging utilities for STScI's packages
python3.7-distutils - distutils package for Python (version 3.7)
python3.8-distutils - distutils package for Python (version 3.8)
python3.9-distutils - distutils package for Python (version 3.9)

You can see python3.7-distutils, python3.8-distutils, and python3.9-distutils listed in above output, then can install it by specify the version tied to your desired python version, e.g. I have python3.8 and I want to do:

$ sudo apt-get install python3.8-distutils

Then I would run pip with that python version (Ensure you run echo $PYTHONPATH first to confirm python3.8(my python version) in the path otherwise pip will install it in wrong path), e.g.:

$ python3.8 -m pip install requests
  • 1
    Not a good solution - on my system that command just spits out "python3-distutils - distutils package for Python 3.x", it's not broken up by sub-versions. – levitopher Jun 25 '20 at 0:01
  • 2
    @levitopher I think it changed recently. – Fruit Jun 25 '20 at 11:08
  • @levitopher your system is it should; it seems Fruit does not delete old apt-repos from previous Ubuntu releases after upgrade, and that's why he got all these results. You can still download those from the ubuntu-site. Also check the explanation of note-2 at the bottom of this SO response. – ankostis Jan 21 at 22:18

Don't know if this will help but for me I was trying to install a package using:

$ pip3 install <package>

And that gave the same error, however when I used sudo:

$ sudo pip3 install <package>

it succeeded. I can only imagine that dist-utils are installed for the root user only.

  • does pip3 install <some package> work? – connelblaze Sep 29 '20 at 20:53
  • I don't mean to be rude but I don't understand what you mean. The first part of my response explains that using what you have written results in an error, which makes me think I might have missed something about your question. – PJeffes Oct 12 '20 at 6:36
  • using sudo is not really the best way anyway, but all good – connelblaze Oct 12 '20 at 22:15
  • I agree with that and normally wouldn't use it - however I posted this as a quick fix. It just seems that something in the config makes dist-utils only available to the root user, which I agree is an issue, but if one just wants to install the package then running with sudo is a quick fix. If you think this is dangerous or strongly against best practice then let me know and I'll remove. – PJeffes Oct 15 '20 at 10:38
  • When running system pip, it tries to install stuff in the /usr/local/{bin,share/python} directories, that are root-only writable. Actually you are expanding your system's python installation with the requested packages, which may masquerade python packages install with apt. To avoid that, work with virtual-envs. – ankostis Jan 22 at 21:06

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