How to specify Python interpreter version in VIM?


You probably don't want to (or at least should not) set python3 as the default python interpreter for vim, as then some (most of) your plugins will become incompatible, such as YouCompleteMe and clang_complete itself, because they do not have python3 support. Normally plugins that do support python3 let you decide if you want to use it by adding to your .vimrc

let g:syntastic_python_python_exec = 'python3' 

Solution: the :echo has('python') showing 0 is actually telling you that vim is perhaps not compiled with python2. So first check the output of vim --version and you should be able to see a list of shared libraries that your compiler has built vim against. Do you see the following? (e.g. for python 2.7):

-L/usr/lib/python2.7/config-x86_64-linux-gnu -lpython2.7

If not (or if you see both -lpython2.x and -lpython3.x I suggest you compile vim from source, linking it specifically to -lpython2.x. It is not that difficult to build vim from source. First make sure to remove all your current vim installation, for instance using aptitude you'd do:

sudo apt-get remove --purge vim vim-runtime vim-gnome vim-tiny vim-common vim-gui-common

clone vim mercurial

hg clone
cd vim

and then run ./configure with the following flags:

 ./configure --with-features=huge \
        --enable-cscope \
        --enable-pythoninterp \
        --enable-largefile \

you might also want to link against ruby and lua if you want, and then finally run

make build
make install

Here is shell script that will automate the whole process for you. This might be a bit of an overkill, but I think this is how you should handle this to not run with compatibility issues with your future packages.

Author by



Updated on July 26, 2022


  • Kai7
    Kai7 2 months

    In order to write C++ in Vim with plugin, Clang_complete.
    After installing, this error occurs:

    Error detected while processing function <SNR>14_ClangCompleteInit..<SNR>14_initClangCompletePython:
    clang_complete: No python support available.
    Cannot use clang library
    Compile vim with python support to use libclang

    But my vim supports both python and python3. +python/dyn +python3/dyn
    then I check my python interpreter:

    :echo has('python')      # output is 0
    :echo has('python3')     # output is 1

    So, I think the reason is my vim dynamic load python3 interpreter by default.
    Can I change python interpreter? or set default dynamic load version of python?