The virtualenv documentation 1 says:

Using pip install --user is less hazardous but can still cause trouble within the particular user account. If a system package expects the system provided virtualenv and an incompatible version is installed with --user that package may have problems within that user account.

According to the above quote from the virtualenv documentation a user python site-package (i.e. user installed python module) can cause problems when a system package expects a system python site-package (i.e. system installed python module) but how can this be true when system site-packages are in the directory /usr/lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages and user site-packages are in ~/.local/pythonX.Y/site-packages.

So if a system package only looks for Python modules in /usr/lib/pythonX.Y/site-packages how does installing an incompatible version of virtualenv with pip install --user affect the system-package? Would it not just return an error saying module not found?

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