Installing pyDARN

License: LGPL v3 Python 3.7 GitHub release (latest by date) DOI

For most users, pyDARN can be installed simply by:

pip3 install pydarn

If already installed, pyDARN can be upgraded by:

pip3 install --upgrade pydarn

Installing in virtual environments is recommended, see below for details.


pyDARN requires python 3.7 or later and matplotlib 3.3.4 or later.


Python 3.6 is commonly the default version included on many operating systems, you may need to install a newer version and specify that version when running python programs and installing libraries.

Depending on your operating system or distribution, the following package installers, development environments or data parsers are required:

Ubuntu OpenSuse Fedora OSX Windows
libyaml-dev python3-PyYAML libyaml-devel Xcode/pip pip

You can check your python version using

$ python --version or $ python3 --version


On installation, pyDARN will download the following dependencies:


If you wish to plot coastlines or geographic projections you will need to install cartopy>=0.19 separately, see below.


Cartopy is a Python package designed for geospatial data processing in order to produce maps and other geospatial data analyses. This library is used when invoking a projection system needing overlapped coastline maps in Fan, Grid and Map plots.

For installing cartopy please follow the installation instructions. For ubuntu here is good installation walkthrough.


pyDARN requires cartopy version 0.19 or higher. cartopy can be a challenging package to install, please provide any information on troubleshooting or solutions in an issue on the pyDARN github page.

Virtual Environments

It is recommended to install pyDARN in one of the suggested virtual environments if you have multiple python versions on your computer, or do not want to affect the main system's python libraries.

The following virtual environments have been tested by pyDARN developers:

pip Virtual Environment

Instructions can be found here virtual environment

Option 1:

  1. $ python3 -m pip install --user virtualenv (Install virtual environment package)
  2. $ python3 -m virtualenv <environment name> (Make your virtual environment)
  3. $ source <environment name>/bin/activate (Activate the virtual environment)
  4. $ pip3 install pydarn (Install pyDARN)


In newer python version, virtualenv is now venv.

Anaconda Virtual Environment

Instructions can be found here conda environment and installing anaconda

  1. $ conda create -n yourenvname python=3.7 anaconda
  2. $ conda activate yourenvname
  3. $ pip install pydarn

Adding the environment to PyCharm

To set the project interpreter to the anaconda environment:

  1. File -> Settings -> Project Folder -> Project Interpreter
  2. Click the project Interpreter drop down list and click on show all.
  3. If you don't see the environment you wish to use click the plus sign on the right side bar named "Add"
  4. Select "Conda Environment" on the left side menu.
  5. Click "Existing Environment" and give the interpreter field the path to your environment's python.exe and apply.

Installing for Development or Testing

pyDARN's default github branch is develop for quicker and easer development.

git clone

To install a specific branch to develop or test: cd pydarn git checkout branch_name pip3 install .

You can alternatively install a specific branch using the following installation, this is most useful for testing new branches:

pip3 install git+

Please read pyDARN Workflow documentation to further understand how to develop in pyDARN.


Some known issues with solutions are:

pip3 installation with Ubuntu 20.4/python 3.8.4

Issue: pip3 install --user git+ not working


  1. check git is installed apt install git (for ubuntu)
  2. Check pip version pip --version - with newer distros of Linux/Virtual machines pip may point to pyhon3 and you will not need pip3.
  3. Alternative virtual environment steps for getting python 3.8 working
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install python3-virtualenv python3-pip
$ cd ~/
$ mkdir venvs
$ virtualenv -p python3.8 ~/venvs/py38
$ echo "source $HOME/venvs/py38/bin/activate" >> ~/.bashrc

Then open a new terminal and you should see (pyy38) in the prompt.

More details on issue #37

aacgmv2 won't install

Issue: unable to execute 'gcc': No such file or directory error: command 'gcc' failed with exit status 1


  1. Ensure gcc is installed if not install it
  2. Ensure you install python3-dev (Ubuntu) or python3-devel for RPM OS Linux operating systems.

General Plotting Errors


  1. check matplotlib version, if lower than 3.3.4 then upgrade matplotlib equal or higher version.
  2. pip install -U matplotlib


If you find any problems/solutions, please make a github issue so the community can help you or add it to the documentation!