How to install Python 2.7 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

As we know Ubuntu 20.04 LTS which is the Long term version of Canonical has dropped the previous version of Python which is 2, to give space to the latest version of Python 3.  Therefore, if some application required Python 2.7 then you would not find it on Ubuntu 20.04 by default. However, there is a way to install it using the command line terminal.

Install Python 2.7 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Linux and make it default

1. Open a command terminal

Although everybody is familiar with how to run the command terminal, however, those who don’t know can use the shortcut key combination i.e. Ctrl+Alt+T.


2. Add Universe repo

It is quite possible that your system would already have the Universe repository, still run the below command to add or confirm it.

sudo apt-add-repository universe
sudo apt update


3. Install Python2.7 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Once done with the above command, it is time to install the Python 2.7 version on Ubuntu Linux, for that, follow this syntax:

sudo apt install python2-minimal


Check Python2 version

To view the current version of Python on your system run:

python2 -V


Python 2.7.18


4. See all available Python versions on the system

As we know Ubuntu 20.04 comes out of the box with Python 3 thus, let’s check what the available versions of Python are on our system.

ls /usr/bin/python*

Check all PHP versions


5. Change the Default Python priority

You will see both Python 2.7 and 3 on your Ubuntu 20.04 Linux. However, by default, the system will give priority to Python3, and that’s when we run python command it will give an error:

Command 'python' not found, did you mean:
command 'python 3' from deb python3
command 'python' from deb python-is-python3

Thus, we changed the priority and set Python2 at the top so that it could be called by applications as the default version. Whereas Python3 will be second.

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/python python /usr/bin/python2 1
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/python python /usr/bin/python3 2

Now, check the default version:

python -V

In the future, if you want to set Python 3 as the default or first version in the priority list, simply update the alternatives list, using this command:

sudo update-alternatives --config python

You will get something like the below screenshot with the choice to set one as the priority. To select, enter the number given corresponding to each version path under the Selection column and hit the Enter key.

Switch Default Python 2.7 Version Ubuntu 20.04


6. Install Pip 2 on Ubuntu 20.04

Now, if you are also interested in Pip 2, here are the following commands.

Note: Make sure you already have enabled the universe repo given in Step 2 of this article and have Python 2 on your system.

sudo apt update 
sudo apt install curl 
curl --output
sudo python2


Check Version:

pip2 --version

Install python2 and PIP 2 on Ubuntu 20.04

7. Uninstall (optional)

If you don’t need Python 2.7 on your system then here is the command to remove it:

sudo apt remove python2-minimal


3 thoughts on “How to install Python 2.7 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS”

  1. On Ubuntu 21.10
    I get “zipimport.ZipImportError: can’t decompress data; zlib not available” error when running
    There seems to be no zlib support compiled in for the available python2.7 package


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