March 13, 2012

Installing Fabric under Windows 7 64-bit, with virtualenv.

It's a bit of a pain to do, but I managed to get Fabric working on my Windows 7 64-bit machine. You'll need pip in advance, I shouldn't need to tell you how to get it.

I did this in Python 2.7, but these steps will probably work for others.

The basic steps are:

  • Create a virtual environment
  • Get/install Mingw
  • Install PyCrypto
  • Install pywin32
  • Install fabric

Init a virtualenv

If you want to do this in a virtualenv, you'll need to do this in the normal way:

> virtualenv --no-site-packages .env
> .env\Scripts\activate.bat

If you choose to use virtualenv, all hacking will take place in your .env\Lib folder unless otherwise specified. If not, you'll be looking in C:\Python27\Lib

Install MinGW

The mingw website has instructions on this matter.

Remember to add the \bin folder to your path. You'll need it.

Install PyCrypto

PyCrypto is a Fabric dependency, and it needs to be compiled via MinGW. To do this, you'll need to edit the file `Lib\distutils\distutils.cfg`. Add the following lines:


You'll also need to mess with your C:\Python27\distutils\ This is in C:\Python27 even for you virtualenv types.

Remove all "-mno-cygwin" flags from lines 322-327 (or wherever the call to set_executables is), so that they look like this:

self.set_executables(compiler='gcc -O -Wall',
                              compiler_so='gcc -mdll -O -Wall',
                              compiler_cxx='g++ -O -Wall',
                              linker_so='%s %s %s'
                                         % (self.linker_dll, shared_option,

Then, you should be able to install it using pip.

Install pywin32

The gotcha here is to NOT install the 64-bit version, or at least it was for me. Go to and find the latest 32-bit file for your python from the latest build. My installer was called "pywin32-217.win32-py2.7.exe"

If you're using a virtualenv, you have two options:

  1. Run the installer as usual and copy the files from C:\Python27\Lib\site-packages
  2. Run the installer from an activated virtualenv using easy_install:
> easy_install C:\Path\To\installer.exe

Install Fabric

Finally, you can install fabric just how you expected to in the first place: "pip install fabric"

Now, on to actually try out this Fabric business.