After updating to Ubuntu 20.04, whenever I run:

pip install <some package>


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.

  • 1
    Solution can be found here: askubuntu.com/questions/1223290/…. TL:DR, run python3 -m pip for all pip commands. Good luck remembering that.....
    – levitopher
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 0:12
  • 2
    Use the version, sudo apt install python3.10-distutils
    – Do-do-new
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 12:32
  • the real answer is that this module is missing in python3.10-minimal, and you need to install python3.10-full
    – Jon Watte
    Commented May 25, 2023 at 22:16
  • 1
    distutils is removed in python 3.12 .. see this answer for details stackoverflow.com/a/76691103/13086128 Commented Feb 27 at 9:29

18 Answers 18


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 
  • 32
    Thanks for the tip, all I needed to do was to run sudo apt install python3.9-distutils
    – jgosar
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 6:34
  • 8
    Yea thanks, I needed that for python3.10 --> sudo apt install python3.10-distutils
    – Ali Rn
    Commented Feb 25, 2022 at 8:35
  • 3
    I upgraded from ubuntu 20.04 -> 22. This fixed my issues
    – S.MC.
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 13:31
  • 1
    Thank you, your solution works to me
    – Guilherme
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 18:56
  • 2
    Why is this not even close to the top answer?
    – JeremyKun
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 17:59

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
  • 31
    i've already tried this doesnt work
    – Rock Life
    Commented May 15, 2020 at 17:35
  • 1
    Turns out distutils was simply missing from my system. +1 Commented Jun 29, 2020 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
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 22:07
  • 1
    thanks, it worked for me today. Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 4:57
  • 1
    Thank you, it helps me. Solved the problem
    – Guilherme
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 16:50

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/distutils /usr/lib/python3.7/distutils


sudo mv /usr/lib/python3.7/distutils/ /usr/lib/python3.7/distutils_back
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/python3.8/distutils /usr/lib/python3.7/

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.

  • 1
    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
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 22:10
  • cp -r /usr/lib/python3.9/distutils /usr/lib/python3.7/distutils this worked for me. Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 14:11
  • This was the only solution that worked when I had to switch Python version from 3.9 to 3.8 on Raspberry Pi OS and make pip3 and virtualenvs work. Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 10:10
  • I had a similar issue, but opposite: I had Python 3.8 and 3.6. The 3.6 distutils folder had the code, but nothing in 3.8. I copied the 'package' to Python 3.8 and now it works properly.
    – mrmuggles
    Commented Jun 29, 2022 at 14:55
  • 1
    Copying the dist-utils around from a different Python version is a very fragile and dangerous solution! You should properly install the respective python3.x-distutils package.
    – bluenote10
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 16:37

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.


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
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 0:01
  • 2
    @levitopher I think it changed recently.
    – 林果皞
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 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
    Commented Jan 21, 2021 at 22:18
  • if you got a error Unable to locate package python3.8-distutils, run sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa to fix it.
    – vladimir
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 23:47

After install Python3.10 in Ubuntu using ppa:deadsnakes/ppa, I've solved this error executing sudo apt install python3.10-distutils.


I installed alternate versions of python from the deadsnakes PPA. I had to install the versioned distutils for all alternate versions of the form python3.x-distutils. So for python 3.9, I did sudo apt install python3.9-distutils.

  • 1
    This does not provide an answer to the question. Once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post; instead, provide answers that don't require clarification from the asker. - From Review Commented May 5, 2022 at 13:53
  • however it solved the issue for python 3.9 and ubuntu 22.4
    – KIC
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 13:45
  • @MarcVanhoomissen As far as I can tell this actually provides the best answer here. The way it is formulated makes it sound like a comment, but installing the proper python3.x-distutils version is key, and much better than the currently top-voted answer that suggest to simply copy the distutils from a different Python version.
    – bluenote10
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 16:43
  • 1
    One thing to mention as well: In my case upgrading the system to 22.04 had disabled the deadsnakes ppa sources. Therefore apt-cache search distutils did not show the "other" python3.x-distutils versions, only the one for 3.10. Re-adding the ppa via sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa && sudo apt update allowed me to install the missing distutils packages.
    – bluenote10
    Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 16:49

I encountered this issue as I upgraded my system from Python 3.9 to Python 3.10 but my terminal (within Pycharm) automatically loaded the venv from Python 3.9 - referencing outdated/missing packages because the upgrade process installed the 3.10 versions of those packages.

Recreating my venv did the trick:

rm -r venv
python3 -m venv venv
source ./venv/bin/activate
pip3 install -r requirements.txt

Simple answer-

sudo apt-get install python3-distutils

Now, if you have different python versions installed, then the specific version for which you are getting this error(let's say python3.8), then use-

sudo apt-get install python3.8-distutils

A generic answer-

sudo apt-get install python<version>-distutils

distutils package is removed in python version 3.12

It was deprecated in Python 3.10 by PEP 632 “Deprecate distutils module”. For projects still using distutils and cannot be updated to something else, the setuptools project can be installed: it still provides distutils.


Yes, you have to do

pip install setuptools

in fresh virtual environment.


I had a similar issue with the packages from ppa:deadsnakes/ppa on Ubuntu 20.04 and resolved it by installing python3.10-full. Complete instructions:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install python3.10-full

Get the same after upgrade from 20.04 to 22.04

22.04 comes with python3.10.
And after upgrade python3.9 still exist beside 3.10 version, but has not distutils, so pip doesn't works with python3.9 (which is bad because you can't uninstall anything installed with python3.9 earlier).

So use: python3.10 -m pip install it works.

And you can make pip use of python3.10 by default like this:

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/python python /usr/bin/python3.10 4

ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'distutils.cmd'

I have got the above error.. It can be solved by following command

sudo apt-get install python3.8-distutils


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? Commented Sep 29, 2020 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
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 6:36
  • using sudo is not really the best way anyway, but all good Commented Oct 12, 2020 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
    Commented Oct 15, 2020 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
    Commented Jan 22, 2021 at 21:06

I had the same problems as the rest after upgrading to latest version of all packages.

In my case it worked to replace old python default binary with a newer one:

sudo unlink /usr/bin/python
sudo ln -s /usr/bin/python3.8 /usr/bin/python

No need for anything else than those two rows. Uncertain how ubuntu feels about it but its nothing more than switching back now when i can install the package i wanted.


I had this issue with Python 3.8 - Ubuntu 18.04 when running python3.8 -m venv blcorp:

ModuleNotFoundError: No module named 'distutils.util'

The fix was similar to Ciro's answer (https://askubuntu.com/a/1260519/1608427):

I had a 3.7 version of distutils, I copied it in the python3.8 distutils package and no more error.

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

I had the same problem trying to install the pandas package through PyCharm IDE in Ubuntu 22.04. I solved the issue by changing the interpreter in SettingsProjectPython interpreter to conda.

For installing conda, just follow the instructions in the Anaconda website. In fact, you just need to download the shell script, then use chmod +x FILENAME.sh, then run the executable with ./FILENAME.sh. Add the interpreter in PyCharm by selecting the path to the executable.

Hope this helps someone.


In my case, I switched from python3.6 into python3.9 and it worked.

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