On a clean install of Linux Mint 18.3 I ran the following commands through the terminal:

sudo apt install python-pip
pip install install --upgrade pip
pip install future
pip install six

Now when I run pip install <package name> or sudo pip install <package name> neither works. Generally I'll get an error message that looks like this:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/bin/pip", line 9, in <module>
    from pip import main
ImportError: cannot import name main

I think it was the pip install install --upgrade pip command that broke everything but yeah this was a terrible idea and I've given up on what I was trying to. All I want now it to return my system python to it's factory setting without having to completely reinstall Linux Mint. Is that possible?

  • This is one of my annoyances with the new pip 10 release. The packages you are using expect pip <= 9. Jun 11, 2018 at 19:42
  • @EdwardMinnix yes it sucks. The python devs seem like they are aggressively trying to kill python 2.7. it's a just cause but sometimes I disagree with their methods. Jun 11, 2018 at 19:48
  • This is not a Python 2 versus Python 3 issue, this is a pip issue (anything from 2.7 to 3.6). Jun 11, 2018 at 20:00
  • 1
    In fact, it's an Ubuntu issue, because packages installed with apt are protected against overwriting. So when you issue sudo pip install --upgrade pip, you actually don't update anything - you install another copy of pip in /usr/local/. The error is because /usr/local/lib/pythonX.X/site-packages precedes /usr/lib/pythonX.X/dist-packages, so pip==8.1.2 from python-pip tries to use incompatible code from pip==10.0.0, thus causing the import error. An easy fix is to place /usr/local/bin before /usr/bin, so the correct executable is used when calling pip.
    – hoefling
    Jun 11, 2018 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


If you're issue is being on too-modern a version of pip (10+), you can always revert it to the previous version (e.g., pip 9.0.3 which was the last version prior to pip 10). You can do this from the command line:

pip install pip==9.0.3
  • on my broken python this Successfully installed pip-8.1.1
    – U.V.
    Nov 23, 2018 at 13:54

I am on a virtualbox linuxmint 18 Sarah installation. I got into a real mess when I tried to update pip. (eventually a missing frozen keyword when using the new pip for installations)

After trying to follow the various instructions like the one above, I did a brute force reinstall until I could run my python tests again and continue development.

Here it goes:

  • First the system upgrade (apt update && apt upgrade)
  • then remove all python installations brute force
    (uninstalling python2.7 with the package manager will leave many broken packages behind)

    rm -f /usr/bin/pip*
    rm -rf /usr/lib/python2.7
    rm -f /usr/local/bin/pip*
    rm -f /usr/local/bin/pyt*
    rm -f /usr/local/bin/pip*
    rm -rf /usr/local/lib/python2.7
    rm -rf $HOME/.local/bin/pyt*
    rm -rf $HOME/.local/bin/pip*
    rm -rf $HOME/.local/lib/python2.7
  • reinstall python from linux packages giving a working pip

    apt install python2.7  --reinstall
    apt install python-pip --reinstall
    apt install python-setuptools --reinstall
    apt install python-pkg-resources  --reinstall
  • reinstall needed python package from using pip, e.g.:

    pip install wheel
    pip install grequests        
    pip install pytest
    pip install flask
    pip install chardet
    pip install prometheus_client
    pip install bs4

The python packages you need to reinstall might vary obviously for your setup. I hope I didn't miss anything important from my command history, but you should get the general idea. The longest was the system upgrade. Everything else wen quite quick

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