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Python Buildpack Reference

This reference documentation offers an in-depth description of the behavior and configuration options of the Paketo Python Buildpack. For explanations of how to use the buildpack for several common use-cases, see the Paketo Python Buildpack How To documentation.

Supported Dependencies

The Python buildpack supports several versions of CPython, as well as tools like Pip and Pipenv. For more details on the specific versions supported in a given buildpack version, see the release notes.

Buildpack-Set Environment Variables

The Python Buildpack sets a few environment variables during the build and launch phases of the app lifecycle. The sections below describe each environment variable and its impact on your app.


The PYTHONPATH environment variable is used to add directories where python will look for modules.

  • Set by: CPython, Pip, Pipenv, Poetry, and Poetry-Install
  • Phases: build and launch

The CPython buildpack sets the PYTHONPATH value to its installation location, and the Pip, Pipenv buildpack prepends their site-packages location to it. site-packages is the target directory where packages are installed to.


The PYTHONUSERBASE environment variable is used to set the user base directory.

  • Set by: Pip, Pipenv, Poetry, Pip Install, Pipenv Install, and Conda Env Update
  • Phases: build and launch

The value of PYTHONUSERBASE is set to the location where these buildpacks install the application packages so that it can be consumed by the app source code.

Start Command

The Python Buildpack sets the default start command python. This starts the Python REPL (read-eval-print loop) at launch.

If the application uses poetry, the Poetry Run buildpack can also be used to create a start command from single script defined in the pyproject.toml file. See the poetry-run documentation for more details.

The Python Buildpack comes with support for Procfile that lets users set custom start commands easily.

Software Bill of Materials

The Python buildpack supports the full software bill of materials (SBOM) in Syft, CycloneDX, and SPDX formats. The Python buildpack also includes limited support for the Paketo-specific SBOM format. This Paketo-specific SBOM format does not include information about the application dependencies.

SBOMs will be generated for applications which leverage Pip, Pipenv, or Poetry.

Check out the Access the Software Bill of Materials guide for more information about how to retrieve the SBOM for your Python app image.

Currently the Python buildpack has limited support for generating an SBOM for applications which leverage Miniconda. Specifically - in order to generate an SBOM for a Miniconda application, applications must vendor their dependencies in addition to defining them via a package-list.txt file. Miniconda applications that declare their dependencies via a package-list.txt file but do not vendor them will result in an empty SBOM. This is due to a limitation in the upstream SBOM generation library (Syft).


Last modified: April 3, 2024