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Modifying PyKX using environment variables

The following environment variables can be used to tune PyKX behavior at run time. These variables need to be set before attempting to import PyKX and will take effect for the duration of the execution of the PyKX process.


The following variables can be used to enable or disable advanced features of PyKX:

Variable Values Description
IGNORE_QHOME 1 or true When loading PyKX on a machine with an existing q installation (and the environment variable QHOME set to the installation folder), PyKX will look within this directory for q scripts and dependencies to load. This variable instructs PyKX to ignore the existing q installation and not load from this directory.
KEEP_LOCAL_TIMES 1 or true When converting a Python datetime object to q, PyKX will translate the Python datetime into UTC before the conversion. This variable instructs PyKX to convert the Python datetime using the local timezone.
PYKX_ALLOCATOR 1 or true When converting a Numpy array to q, PyKX implements a full data copy in order to translate the Numpy array to q representation in memory. When this is set PyKX implements NEP-49 which allows q to handle memory allocation of all Numpy arrays so they can be converted more efficiently to q. This avoids the need to resort to a copy where possible.
PYKX_ENABLE_PANDAS_API 1 or true Enable the Pandas API for pykx.Table objects
PYKX_GC 1 or true When PYKX_ALLOCATOR is enabled, PyKX can trigger q garbage collector when Numpy arrays allocated by PyKX are deallocated. This variable enables this behavior which will release q memory to the OS following deallocation of the numpy array at the cost of a small overhead.
PYKX_LOAD_PYARROW_UNSAFE 1 or true By default, PyKX uses a subprocess to import pyarrow as it can result in a crash when the version of pyarrow is incompatible. This variable will trigger a normal import of pyarrow and importing PyKX should be slightly faster.
PYKX_MAX_ERROR_LENGTH size in characters By default, PyKX reports IPC connection errors with a message buffer of size 256 characters. This allows the length of these error messages to be modified reducing the chance of excessive error messages polluting logs.
PYKX_NOQCE 1 or true On Linux, PyKX comes with q Cloud Edition features from Insights Core ( This variable allows a user to skip the loading of q Cloud Edition functionality, saving some time when importing PyKX but removing access to possibly supported additional functionality.
PYKX_Q_LIB_LOCATION Path to a directory containing q libraries necessary for loading PyKX See here for detailed information. This allows a user to centralise the q libraries, q.k, read.q, etc to a managed location within their environment which is decentralised from the Python installation. This is required for some enterprise use-cases.
PYKX_RELEASE_GIL 1 or true When PYKX_RELEASE_GIL is enabled the Python Global Interpreter Lock will not be held when calling into q.
PYKX_Q_LOCK 1 or true When PYKX_Q_LOCK is enabled a reentrant lock is added around calls into q, this lock will stop multiple threads from calling into q at the same time. This allows embedded q to be threadsafe even when using PYKX_RELEASE_GIL.

The variables below can be used to set the environment for q (embedded in PyKX, in licensed mode):

Variable Values Description
QARGS See link Command-line flags to pass to q, see here for more information.
QHOME Path to the users q installation folder See here for more information.
QLIC Path to the folder where the q license should be found See here for more information.

PyKX under q

PyKX can be loaded and used from a q session (see here for more information). The following variables are specific to this mode of operation.

Variable Values Description
PYKX_DEFAULT_CONVERSION py, np, pd, pa or k Default conversion to apply when passing q objects to Python. Converting to Numpy (np) by default.
SKIP_UNDERQ 1 or true When importing PyKX from Python, PyKX will also load pykx.q under its embedded q. This variable skip this step.
UNSET_PYKX_GLOBALS 1 or true By default "PyKX under q" will load some utility functions into the global namespace (eg. print). This variable prevents this.

q Cloud Edition features with Insights Core (Linux only)

On Linux, the q Cloud Edition features, coming with Insights Core, can be used to read data from Cloud Storage (AWS S3, Google Cloud Storage, Azure Blob Storage). Credentials to access the Cloud Storage can be passed using specific environment variables. For more information, see the two following links: