This is confusing, and a question I've harvested from a duplicate, so let me start with my setup.

  • OS: Windows 7 x64
  • GIS Client 1: ArcGIS Desktop 10.5
  • GIS Client 2: ArcGIS Pro 1.4
  • GIS Client 3: Boundless Desktop 1.0 (QGIS 2.14)


Many of the scripts I write, I try to keep open-source for those without a fancy ArcGIS license. However, I can't set PyQGIS as my default system interpreter in my environment variables because it will break many of the tools in ArcMap. So I have taken the approach of making ArcGIS's Python instance the system Python, and installing open-source libraries there (and using .pth files to pull in qgis.core functionality if I need it). I am using Gohlke's precompiled GDAL wheel (32-bit) in this case. I am operating under the assumption that this breaks the fewest amount of things.


I have multiple installs of GDAL, and the system seems to keep defaulting to one of them, ignoring any environment variables I set.

C:\Program Files\GDAL contains version 2.1.0 (64-bit).

C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.5\Lib\site-packages\osgeo contains version 2.1.3 (32-bit).

C:\Program Files\GDAL appears nowhere in my user environment variables.

Instead, I have the variables:

GDAL_DATA pointing to C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.5\Lib\site-packages\osgeo\data\gdal

and a variable called

GDAL_DRIVER_PATH pointing to C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.5\Lib\site-packages\osgeo.

C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.5\Lib\site-packages\osgeo is in my PATH.

Yet, when I open a command prompt and type ogrinfo --version it does not give me 2.1.3 (the version in PATH) but rather 2.1.0 (the 64-bit version in \Program Files\GDAL, which is nowhere in PATH).

What gives?

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  • hmm, have you tried uninstalling then reinstalling arc? i have had very funky things happen to my environmental python variables when I downloaded gdal in the same folder as arcgis python
    – ziggy
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:23
  • Type set inside the command line window. Apart from the PATH value, look also for PYTHONPATH and PYTHONHOME. If you use the OSGEO4W shell, kit sets its own environment variables. Not sure if Boundless does the same.
    – AndreJ
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 13:35
  • Do you have separate administrator and user accounts?
    – RutgerH
    Commented May 23, 2018 at 13:43
  • workaround : give the full path of your gdal apps when launching from python subprocess.call or os.system
    – radouxju
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 7:06
  • I would do the installs in a virtual environment such as with anaconda.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 21:15

1 Answer 1


Boundless Desktop contains its own version of GDAL/OGR and has its own command shell to execute commands. The conflict exists with ArcGIS.

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