Anaconda vs. miniconda

Per the original docs:

Choose Anaconda if you:

  • Are new to conda or Python
  • Like the convenience of having Python and over 1500 scientific packages automatically installed at once
  • Have the time and disk space (a few minutes and 3 GB), and/or
  • Don’t want to install each of the packages you want to use individually.

Choose Miniconda if you:

  • Do not mind installing each of the packages you want to use
  • Do not have time or disk space to install over 1500
    packages at once, and/or
  • Just want fast access to Python and the conda commands, and wish to sort out the other programs later.

I use Miniconda myself. Anaconda is bloated. Many of the packages are never used and could still be easily installed if and when needed.

Note that Conda is the package manager (e.g. conda list displays all installed packages in the environment), whereas Anaconda and Miniconda are distributions. A software distribution is a collection of packages, pre-built and pre-configured, that can be installed and used on a system. A package manager is a tool that automates the process of installing, updating, and removing packages.

Anaconda is a full distribution of the central software in the PyData ecosystem, and includes Python itself along with the binaries for several hundred third-party open-source projects. Miniconda is essentially an installer for an empty conda environment, containing only Conda, its dependencies, and Python. Source.

Once Conda is installed, you can then install whatever package you need from scratch along with any desired version of Python.

2- is the version number for your Anaconda installation package. Strangely, it is not listed in their Old Package Lists.

In April 2016, the Anaconda versioning jumped from 2.5 to 4.0 in order to avoid confusion with Python versions 2 & 3. Version 4.0 included the Anaconda Navigator.

Release notes for subsequent versions can be found here.

The difference is that miniconda is just shipping the repository management system. So when you install it there is just the management system without packages. Whereas with Anaconda, it is like a distribution with some built in packages.

Like with any Linux distribution, there are some releases which bundles lots of updates for the included packages. That is why there is a difference in version numbering. If you only decide to upgrade Anaconda, you are updating a whole system.


conda is both a command line tool, and a python package.

Miniconda installer = Python + conda

Anaconda installer = Python + conda + meta package anaconda

meta Python pkg anaconda = about 160 Python pkgs for daily use in data science

Anaconda installer = Miniconda installer + conda install anaconda


  1. conda is a python manager and an environment manager, which makes it possible to

    • install package with conda install flake8
    • create an environment with any version of Python with conda create -n myenv python=3.6
  2. Miniconda installer = Python + conda

    conda, the package manager and environment manager, is a Python package. So Python is installed. Cause conda distribute Python interpreter with its own libraries/dependencies but not the existing ones on your operating system, other minimal dependencies like openssl, ncurses, sqlite, etc are installed as well.

    Basically, Miniconda is just conda and its minimal dependencies. And the environment where conda is installed is the “base” environment, which is previously called “root” environment.

  3. Anaconda installer = Python + conda + meta package anaconda

  4. meta Python package anaconda = about 160 Python pkgs for daily use in data science

    Meta packages, are packages that do NOT contain actual softwares and simply depend on other packages to be installed.

    Download an anaconda meta package from Anaconda Cloud and extract the content from it. The actual 160+ packages to be installed are listed in info/recipe/meta.yaml.

        name: anaconda
        version: '2019.07'
            - '*'
        number: '0'
        pin_depends: strict
        string: py36_0
            - python 3.6.8 haf84260_0
            - true
            - alabaster 0.7.12 py36_0
            - anaconda-client 1.7.2 py36_0
            - anaconda-project 0.8.3 py_0
            # ...
            - beautifulsoup4 4.7.1 py36_1
            # ...
            - curl 7.65.2 ha441bb4_0
            # ...
            - hdf5 1.10.4 hfa1e0ec_0
            # ...
            - ipykernel 5.1.1 py36h39e3cac_0
            - ipython 7.6.1 py36h39e3cac_0
            - ipython_genutils 0.2.0 py36h241746c_0
            - ipywidgets 7.5.0 py_0
            # ...
            - jupyter 1.0.0 py36_7
            - jupyter_client 5.3.1 py_0
            - jupyter_console 6.0.0 py36_0
            - jupyter_core 4.5.0 py_0
            - jupyterlab 1.0.2 py36hf63ae98_0
            - jupyterlab_server 1.0.0 py_0
            # ...
            - matplotlib 3.1.0 py36h54f8f79_0
            # ...
            - mkl 2019.4 233
            - mkl-service 2.0.2 py36h1de35cc_0
            - mkl_fft 1.0.12 py36h5e564d8_0
            - mkl_random 1.0.2 py36h27c97d8_0
            # ...
            - nltk 3.4.4 py36_0
            # ...
            - numpy 1.16.4 py36hacdab7b_0
            - numpy-base 1.16.4 py36h6575580_0
            - numpydoc 0.9.1 py_0
            # ...
            - pandas 0.24.2 py36h0a44026_0
            - pandoc 0
            # ...
            - pillow 6.1.0 py36hb68e598_0
            # ...
            - pyqt 5.9.2 py36h655552a_2
            # ...
            - qt 5.9.7 h468cd18_1
            - qtawesome 0.5.7 py36_1
            - qtconsole 4.5.1 py_0
            - qtpy 1.8.0 py_0
            # ...
            - requests 2.22.0 py36_0
            # ...
            - sphinx 2.1.2 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib 1.0 py36_1
            - sphinxcontrib-applehelp 1.0.1 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib-devhelp 1.0.1 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib-htmlhelp 1.0.2 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib-jsmath 1.0.1 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib-qthelp 1.0.2 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib-serializinghtml 1.1.3 py_0
            - sphinxcontrib-websupport 1.1.2 py_0
            - spyder 3.3.6 py36_0
            - spyder-kernels 0.5.1 py36_0
            # ...

    The pre-installed packages from meta pkg anaconda are mainly for web scraping and data science. Like requests, beautifulsoup, numpy, nltk, etc.

    If you have a Miniconda installed, conda install anaconda will make it same as an Anaconda installation, except that the installation folder names are different.

  5. Miniconda2 v.s. Miniconda. Anaconda2 v.s. Anaconda.

    2 means the bundled Python interpreter for conda in the “base” environment is Python 2, but not Python 3.

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