Configuration File Handling#

The pip._internal.configuration module is responsible for handling (eg. loading from and saving values to) configuration files that are used by pip. The module’s functionality is largely exposed through and coordinated by the module’s Configuration class.


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pip stores configuration files in standard OS-appropriate locations, which are determined by appdirs. These files are in the INI format and are processed with RawConfigParser.

pip uses configuration files in two operations:

  • During processing of command line options.

    • Reading from all configuration sources

  • As part of pip config command.

    • Reading from all configuration sources

    • Manipulating a single configuration file

Both of these operations utilize functionality provided the Configuration object, which encapsulates all the logic for handling configuration files and provides APIs for the same.

The remainder of this section documents the Configuration class, and discusses potential future refactoring ideas.

Configuration class#

Configuration loads configuration values from sources in the local environment: a combination of configuration files and environment variables.

It can be used in two “modes”, for reading all the values from the local environment and for manipulating a single configuration file. It differentiates between these two modes using the load_only attribute, which can be None or represent the kind of the configuration file to be manipulated.

The isolated attribute determines which sources are used when loading the configuration. If isolated is True, user-specific configuration files and environment variables are not used.

Reading from local environment#

Configuration can be used to read from all configuration sources in the local environment and access the values, as per the precedence logic described in the Config Precedence section.

For this use case, the Configuration.load_only attribute would be None, and the methods used would be:

class Configuration#

Handles all the interactions with the environment, to load all the configuration data into objects in memory.


Provides key-value pairs (like dict.items()) from the loaded-in-memory information, handling all of the override ordering logic.


Provides the value of the given key from the loaded configuration. The loaded configuration may have load_only be None or non-None. This uses the same underlying mechanism as Configuration.items() and does follow the precedence logic described in Config Precedence.

At the time of writing, the parts of the codebase that use Configuration in this manner are: ConfigOptionParser, to transparently include configuration handling as part of the command line processing logic, and pip config get, for printing the entire configuration when no kind is specified via the CLI.

Manipulating a single configuration file#

Configuration can be used to manipulate a single configuration file, such as to add, change or remove certain key-value pairs.

For this use case, the load_only attribute would be non-None, and would represent the kind of the configuration file to be manipulated. In addition to the methods discussed in the previous section, the methods used would be:

class Configuration

Provides the “highest priority” file, for the kind of configuration file specified by load_only. This requires load_only to be non-None.

set_value(key, value)#

Provides a way to add/change a single key-value pair, in the file specified by Configuration.get_file_to_edit().


Provides a way to remove a single key-value pair, in the file specified by Configuration.get_file_to_edit().


Saves the in-memory state of to the original files, saving any modifications made to the Configuration object back into the local environment.


This is an enumeration that provides values to represent a “source” for configuration. This includes environment variables and various types of configuration files (global, site-specific, user_specific, specified via PIP_CONFIG_FILE).

Future Refactoring Ideas#

  • Break up the Configuration class into 2 smaller classes, by use case
    • Command use-case (read only) -- ConfigurationReader

    • pip config use-case (read / write) -- ConfigurationModifier (inherit from ConfigurationReader)

  • Eagerly populate Configuration._dictionary on load.