I'm running Ubuntu Server 10.04 64-bit under VirtualBox, and it seems that everything except easy_install and pip can connect to the Internet. I have set and exported the http_proxy environment variable, and also set up the proxy address in every other location I'm aware of. Yet easy_install always returns "Network is unreachable":

:~$ echo $http_proxy

:~$ grep "http_proxy" /etc/bash.bashrc
export http_proxy=

:~$ grep "http_proxy" /etc/wgetrc
http_proxy =

:~$ ping pypi.python.org
PING pypi.python.org ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from pypi.python.org ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=53 time=114 ms
64 bytes from pypi.python.org ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=53 time=113 ms
64 bytes from pypi.python.org ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=53 time=113 ms
64 bytes from pypi.python.org ( icmp_seq=4 ttl=53 time=113 ms
64 bytes from pypi.python.org ( icmp_seq=5 ttl=53 time=114 ms
64 bytes from pypi.python.org ( icmp_seq=6 ttl=53 time=113 ms
--- pypi.python.org ping statistics ---
6 packets transmitted, 6 received, 0% packet loss, time 5006ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 113.367/113.871/114.678/0.614 ms

:~$ sudo easy_install virtualenv
Searching for virtualenv
Reading http://pypi.python.org/simple/virtualenv/
Download error: [Errno 101] Network is unreachable -- Some packages may not be found!
Reading http://pypi.python.org/simple/virtualenv/

I can even connect to the site from within Python:

>>> import urllib
>>> obj = urllib.urlopen('http://pypi.python.org/simple/virtualenv/')
>>> obj.readlines()[0]
'<html><head><title>Links for virtualenv</title></head><body><h1>Links for virtualenv</h1><a href="../../packages/source/v/virtualenv/virtualenv-1.5.1.tar.gz#md5=3daa1f449d5d2ee03099484cecb1c2b7">virtualenv-1.5.1.tar.gz</a><br/>\n'

I have had the same result with packages other than virtualenv. Is easy_install looking somewhere else for connection information, or is there something obvious I'm missing?

3 Answers 3


It's a problem with sudo. If you use sudo, the variable $http_proxy is unknown in this context.

sudo -i opens up a root shell. There you can set the $http_proxy variable again and then easy_install works - you don't have to use sudo because you are already superuser.

$ sudo -i
# export http_proxy=
# easy_install virtualenv

Or you can have your actual environment in sudo context and save the "get root step" via:

$ sudo -E easy_install virtualenv
  • 1
    Thank you. Figures that I forget about things like scope when I'm not programming. I must have set up http_proxy in /etc/environment on the other installations where I had no problem.
    – robots.jpg
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 20:33
  • 1
    BRILLIANT. No guides have this.
    – Rob Grant
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 13:52

Rather than opening up a root shell with sudo -i you can run the command

$ sudo -E easy_install virtualenv

The -E switch preserves your current environment.

  • Another gotcha is that some sudo-like replacements (e.g. dzdo) refuse to preserve these variables even if you tell them to. Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 16:39

I had to add

# export http_proxy=x.x.x.x:YY
# export https_proxy=x.x.x.x:YY
# export ftp_proxy=x.x.x.x:YY

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