Building a package without a recipe (bdist_conda)

You can use conda-build to build packages for Python to install rather than conda by using bdist_conda. This is a quick way to build packages without using a recipe, but it has limitations. The script is limited to the Python version used in the build and it is not as reproducible as using a recipe. We recommend using a recipe with conda-build.


If you use Setuptools, you must first import Setuptools and then import conda_build.bdist_conda, because Setuptools monkey patches distutils.dist.Distribution.

EXAMPLE: A minimal file using the setup options name and version:

 from setuptools import setup
 import conda_build.bdist_conda


Setup options

You can pass the following options to setup(). You must include distclass=conda_build.bdist_conda.CondaDistribution.

Build number

The number of the build. Can be overridden on the command line with the --buildnum flag. Defaults to 0.


Build string

The build string. Default is generated automatically from the Python version, NumPy version---if relevant---and the build number, such as py34_0.


Import tests

Whether to automatically run import tests. The default is True, which runs import tests for all the modules in packages. Also allowed are False, which runs no tests, or a list of module names to be tested on import.


Command line tests

Command line tests to run. Default is True, which runs command --help for each command in the console_scripts and gui_scripts entry_points. Also allowed are False, which does not run any command tests, or a list of command tests to run.


Binary files relocatable

Whether binary files should be made relocatable, using install_name_tool on macOS or patchelf on Linux. The default is True.


For more information, see Making packages relocatable.

Preserve egg directory

Whether to preserve the egg directory as installed by Setuptools. The default is True if the package depends on Setuptools or has Setuptools entry_points other than console_scripts and gui_scripts.


Command line options

Build number

Set the build number. Defaults to the conda_buildnum passed to setup() or 0. Overrides any conda_buildnum passed to setup().



  • You must install bdist_conda into a root conda environment, as it imports conda and conda_build. It is included as part of the conda-build package.

  • All metadata is gathered from the standard metadata from the setup() function. Metadata that are not directly supported by setup() can be added using one of the options specified above.

  • By default, import tests are run for each subpackage specified by packages, and command line tests command --help are run for each setuptools entry_points command. This is done to ensure that the package is built correctly. You can disable or change these using the conda_import_tests and conda_command_tests options specified above.

  • The Python version used in the build must be the same as where conda is installed, as bdist_conda uses conda-build.

  • bdist_conda uses the metadata provided to the setup() function.

  • If you want to pass any bdist_conda specific options to setup(), in setup() you must set distclass=conda_build.bdist_conda.CondaDistribution.