Python Tutorial for Beginners

Python is a general-purpose interpreted, interactive, object-oriented, and high-level programming language. It was created by Guido van Rossum during 1985- 1990. Like Perl, Python source code is also available under the GNU General Public License (GPL). This tutorial gives enough understanding on Python programming language.

Getting Python

The most up-to-date and current source code, binaries, documentation, news, etc., is available on the official website of Python

You can download Python documentation from The documentation is available in HTML, PDF, and PostScript formats.

Installing Python

Python distribution is available for a wide variety of platforms. You need to download only the binary code applicable for your platform and install Python.

If the binary code for your platform is not available, you need a C compiler to compile the source code manually. Compiling the source code offers more flexibility in terms of choice of features that you require in your installation.

Unix and Linux Installation

Here are the simple steps to install Python on Unix/Linux machine.

  • Open a Web browser and go to
  • Follow the link to download zipped source code available for Unix/Linux.
  • Download and extract files.
  • Editing the Modules/Setup file if you want to customize some options.
run ./configure script
make install

This installs Python at standard location /usr/local/bin and its libraries at /usr/local/lib/pythonXX where XX is the version of Python.

Windows Installation

Here are the steps to install Python on Windows machine.

Open a Web browser and go to

Follow the link for the Windows installer python-XYZ.msi file where XYZ is the version you need to install.

To use this installer python-XYZ.msi, the Windows system must support Microsoft Installer 2.0. Save the installer file to your local machine and then run it to find out if your machine supports MSI.

Run the downloaded file. This brings up the Python install wizard, which is really easy to use. Just accept the default settings, wait until the install is finished, and you are done.

Macintosh Installation

Recent Macs come with Python installed, but it may be several years out of date. See for instructions on getting the current version along with extra tools to support development on the Mac. For older Mac OS’s before Mac OS X 10.3 (released in 2003), MacPython is available.

Jack Jansen maintains it and you can have full access to the entire documentation at his website − You can find complete installation details for Mac OS installation.

Setting up PATH

Programs and other executable files can be in many directories, so operating systems provide a search path that lists the directories that the OS searches for executables.

The path is stored in an environment variable, which is a named string maintained by the operating system. This variable contains information available to the command shell and other programs.

The path variable is named as PATH in Unix or Path in Windows (Unix is case sensitive; Windows is not).

In Mac OS, the installer handles the path details. To invoke the Python interpreter from any particular directory, you must add the Python directory to your path.

Setting path at Unix/Linux

To add the Python directory to the path for a particular session in Unix −

In the csh shell − type setenv PATH “$PATH:/usr/local/bin/python” and press Enter.

In the bash shell (Linux) − type export ATH=”$PATH:/usr/local/bin/python” and press Enter.

In the sh or ksh shell − type PATH=”$PATH:/usr/local/bin/python” and press Enter.

Note − /usr/local/bin/python is the path of the Python directory

Setting path at Windows

To add the Python directory to the path for a particular session in Windows −

At the command prompt − type path %path%;C:\Python and press Enter.

Note − C:\Python is the path of the Python directory

Running Python

There are three different ways to start Python −

You can start Python from Unix, DOS, or any other system that provides you a command-line interpreter or shell window.

Enter python in the command line.

Start coding right away in the interactive interpreter.

$python # Unix/Linux


python% # Unix/Linux


C:> python # Windows/DOS

Integrated Development Environment

You can run Python from a Graphical User Interface (GUI) environment as well, if you have a GUI application on your system that supports Python.

Unix − IDLE is the very first Unix IDE for Python.

Windows − PythonWin is the first Windows interface for Python and is an IDE with a GUI.

Macintosh − The Macintosh version of Python along with the IDLE IDE is available from the main website, downloadable as either MacBinary or BinHex’d files.

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