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I'm trying to install a specific version of python. I will be using yum install python26. My question is, does that upgrade the current python installed on the machine or does it install the new python in addition to the current one?

I need to be able to keep the current version default (which is 2.4.3) and also install the new 2.6

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In answering your question 'can you install multiple versions of python with yum' yes you can but check your os site first and make sure you install/altinstall not update and use the different version names,python2.4 and python2.6. There is not much info on how to install two python versions with Yum and alot of how to without.
Read 1st section and last section mainly but whole page is worth a read.
http://illiterat.livejournal.com/7660.html
stackoverflow.com has some good advice and links, if you wish for different ways to install. http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1465036/install-python-2-6-in-centos
Hope this is what you are after

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Just to reinforce the "be careful" point... make sure you get it right else any scripts/apps that rely on python (e.g. including system management) may break. Not sure how much of an issue it is with your (unnamed) distribution but some are more susceptible than others. –  PriceChild Apr 13 '11 at 8:37
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