The Aquaris E4.5 ubuntuphone ships with a pre-installed python3 interpreter. However, this embedded interpreter lacks the package manager pip - a common tool to install new python modules. In this blogpost, I will show how to install pip and setuptools on the ubuntuphone.

Getting Started

First, we need a terminal on the phone. Go to the Ubuntu Store and download the Terminal app. Now start the app from the application scope and type python3 --version. We should see an output similar to Python 3.4.1+.

If we try to run pip3 or python3 -m pip, we will see an error message because pip is not installed.

Installing Pip and Setuptools

Download the self-included pip binary setup script with wget as recommended on the pip installer page.


Now configure pip to always use the –user flag, in order to install everything to the ~/.local directory rather than the read-only /usr directory. This allows us also to run pip without the need for sudo. We will write a pip.conf file to handle this for us.

mkdir -p .config/pip
echo -e "[install]\nuser = true" > .config/pip/pip.conf

Next, you can run the pip installer to install and update itself.


You should now see an output saying Successfully installed pip setuptools. Finally, you can call pip with the python3 -m command to install packages from PyPi.

python3 -m pip install requests


Due to the lack of compiling tools on the phone, we are not able to install any packages with pip that need to be compiled, such as numpy. These packages need to be cross-compiled and copied on the phone manually.

When, we want to call pip directly - instead of using the python -m pip command - we need to add the ~/.local/bin directory that contains the pip binary to the path.

echo -e "PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.local/bin\nexport PATH" >> .bashrc

Now, if we restart the terminal we can use the pip command directly from the termnial. However, when we execute the pip command in the terminal, we will receive a bad interpreter, permission denied error message. This problem occurs due to the mount options of the /home directory. As a workaround, we need to use the odd python3 -m pip command.

Useful Shortcuts

If we want also the python command available rather than python3 we need to link it to the .local/bin directory (and add this directory to the path, what we did in the previous section).

ln -s /usr/bin/python3 .local/bin/python

After restarting the Terminal app, we can use the python command.


$ mount | grep home
/dev/mmcblk0p7 on home type ext4 (rw,relatime,discard,nodelalloc,data=journal)