Movable Python: The Portable Python Distribution

Movable Python - Python on a Stick

An Introduction

Python on a Stick
Author:Michael Foord
License:Movable Python License
Homepage:Movable Python Homepage
Download:Download Movable Python
Support:Movable Python Mailing List


Multifeatured Movable Python

emoticon:python Movable Python is a distribution of Python, for Windows, that doesn't need to be installed. It easily fits onto a USB memory stick or flash drive. Python on a stick [1]. Smile

It is integrated with the Pythonwin IDE, to make Movable Python a portable Build, Test, and Run environment. It has a nice GUI to launch programs and control its behaviour. At last you can carry a full development environment around with you.

Movable Python is useful in the following situations:

  • Machines where you can't install programs.
  • Creating a 'clean' installation of Python for testing programs.
  • Where you need a portable 'Build, Test, and Run' Python environment.
  • Having several versions of Python on the same machine for forward / backward compatibility testing.
  • Easily deploying Python scripts without having to install Python.
  • Try before you buy - test Python without having to install it, including new versions .
  • 'Python Runtime Environment'. '.py' files can be associated with movpy.


If you like Movable Python, don't forget to check out the other Voidspace Python Projects.


Movable Python distributions come as a single zip file. For more details on the contents of this zipfile, see the distributions page.

To use, unzip the contents and open the movpy directory. If you doubleclick on movpyw.exe it will bring up the GUI launcher. You can use this to launch scripts, the interpreter or an IDE.

From the command line, you can use movpy.exe and movpyw.exe in the same way as you would use python.exe and ``pythonw.exe. See the page on the command line for more details of the command line options available.


The distributions come with the full Python standard library. They also include several tools and add-on libraries.

There are five different distributions available :

  • Python 2.2.3
  • Python 2.3.5
  • Python 2.4.4
  • Python 2.5.0

Each distribution comes with several popular third party extendion modules, like pywin32, wxPython and PIL (plus lots more). For a full list of all the extension modules included, see the distributions page.

If you would like to see your favourite extension or tool included in this list, contact me or post suggestions on the Mailing List.

It is easy to add further extension modules to your Movable Python distribution. See Customising Your Distribution.

There is also a portable version of IDLE, called Movable IDLE available for free download. This is built with Python 2.4.3 and comes with the full Python standard library, but lacks a lot of the features of Movable Python.

Support and Compatibility

Movable Python is under active development, and will continue to improve. You can see some of the new features that may be added on the TODO Page.

Movable Python contains the full Python interpreter and standard library. This means that it is capable of running any code that normal Python can. For an example of a large and complex program that runs under Movable Python, see SPE the Python editor. Smile

A lot of work has gone into ensuring that programs run with Movable Python run in the same environment as a normal Python program. There are still some very slight differences. See the ISSUES Page for more details on these.

Any problems (programs not running) are likely to be with third party extension modules.

Usually only with:

  • Modules that make registry entries when they are installed.
  • Modules that assume the Python executable name or rely on the directory structure of a normal installation.
  • Modules that attempt to detect when they are running in a frozen environment and behave differently.

These cases are uncommon and usually resolvable.

Please use the Mailing List for:

  • Bug reports
  • Feature requests
  • Suggestions
  • Questions


[1]Python on a stick, get your gannet ripple here. Silly Monty Python reference supplied by John Davenport.

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Page last modified Sun Apr 12 00:14:38 2009.

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