Optimizing Web Applications with Memcached: Troubleshooting, Best Practices, and More9 min read

I’ll provide you with a step-by-step guide on fixing the ‘python memcache has no installation candidate’ error on Ubuntu, along with instructions for installing and configuring Memcached, and switching to ‘pymemcached’ for improved performance. We’ll also cover expert tips on best practices and securing Memcached with SASL and TLS.

Memcached is a popular open-source distributed memory caching system. It is primarily used to speed up dynamic web applications by reducing the number of times an application must fetch data from a database or API. This results in faster response times, lower latency, and improved scalability. Memcached is widely used by organizations such as Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia to optimize their web applications and services.

When attempting to install the ‘python-memcache’ package on Ubuntu, users may encounter an error message stating that the package is not found or has no installation candidate. This error occurs because the package is not available in the default Ubuntu repository. The Ubuntu package manager, APT, is unable to locate the package in its repository, resulting in the error message.

The Significance of Memcached and Its Versatile Applications

Memcached stands as a renowned open-source distributed memory caching system, revered for its ability to supercharge dynamic web applications. By minimizing the need for these applications to repeatedly retrieve data from databases or APIs, Memcached paves the way for swift response times, reduced latency, and unparalleled scalability. In fact, leading tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia have harnessed the power of Memcached to optimize their web-based offerings.

Dealing with the ‘python-memcache’ Installation Conundrum on Ubuntu

For Ubuntu users, the road to installing the ‘python-memcache’ package can sometimes be a rocky one, marked by perplexing error messages suggesting that the package is nowhere to be found, or that it has no installation candidate. The root cause of this issue can be traced back to the package’s absence from the default Ubuntu repository. As a result, Ubuntu’s package manager, APT, struggles to locate the package within its repository, and this conundrum leaves users scratching their heads.

In the following sections, we’ll explore the solutions to this common Ubuntu hurdle, guiding you through the steps to resolve it seamlessly.

Demystifying the Error Message

Understanding APT

Before we dive into the resolution process, it’s essential to grasp the role of APT (Advanced Package Tool). APT is a package management system integral to Ubuntu and various Debian-based Linux distributions. It acts as the guardian of your software ecosystem, facilitating tasks like software installation, upgrades, and removal. To do this, APT relies on a network of software repositories to locate and fetch packages, keeping your system up to date.

Why APT Struggles

So, why does APT fail to work its magic when it comes to the ‘python-memcache’ package? The root of the problem lies in the package’s unavailability within the default Ubuntu repository. Since it’s missing in action from this repository, APT finds itself at an impasse, unable to proceed with the installation.

Navigating the Issue

To surmount this challenge, we must take matters into our own hands. The solution involves introducing the missing ‘python-memcache’ package to our Ubuntu system. We achieve this by incorporating the Memcached repository into APT. This repository becomes the bridge that leads us to our desired package, bringing it within APT’s reach.

In the following sections, we will walk you through this process step by step, ensuring a smooth and error-free installation.

Resolving the Issue

Installing Memcached

Before we can proceed with the installation of the coveted ‘python-memcache’ package, we must ensure that Memcached is snugly set up on our system. To achieve this, follow these commands in your terminal:

The first command is designed to update your package list, guaranteeing that you’re operating with the latest and greatest. The second command, on the other hand, takes care of installing Memcached and an invaluable companion – the ‘libmemcached-tools’ package, which equips you with a toolkit for effective interactions with Memcached.

Configuring Memcached

With Memcached firmly in place, the next order of business is configuration. Keep in mind that the configuration process may vary depending on the programming language you’re working with.

Enabling Memcached for Python Applications

For Python applications, enabling Memcached is a breeze. The key to this lies in the installation of the ‘python-memcache’ package. This can be done through either ‘pip’ or ‘aptitude,’ and we’ll walk you through both options.

Using Pip to Install ‘python-memcache’

To harness the powers of ‘python-memcache’ through ‘pip,’ issue the following command in your terminal:

Using Aptitude to Install ‘python-memcache’

Alternatively, if you opt for ‘aptitude,’ we must first usher the Memcached repository into our list of software sources. Execute this command in your terminal to make it happen:

By adhering to these precise steps, you’ll ensure that Memcached is not only installed but also primed for action within your Python applications.

Installing Memcached on Different Versions of Ubuntu and Debian

The process of installing Memcached can slightly vary depending on the version of Ubuntu or Debian you’re working with. Here, we’ll outline the steps for two popular Ubuntu versions (18.04 and 20.04) and two Debian versions (9 and 10).

Installing Memcached on Ubuntu 18.04/20.04

For Ubuntu 18.04/20.04, you can easily install Memcached with the following commands:

Installing Memcached on Debian 9/10

Debian 9/10 users can also install Memcached using the following commands:

These steps ensure that you have Memcached up and running on your system, regardless of your distribution version.

Troubleshooting Common Installation Issues

In addition to the ‘python-memcache’ package, users might encounter hurdles when installing other packages on their Ubuntu systems. Here are solutions to address some common issues:

Installing ‘python-pip’ on Ubuntu

To get ‘python-pip’ up and running on your Ubuntu system, execute the following command:

Installing ‘php-memcache’ on Ubuntu

For ‘php-memcache’ installation on Ubuntu, use this command:

Installing ‘libav-tools’ on Ubuntu

To add ‘libav-tools’ to your Ubuntu system, deploy this command:

By following these precise instructions, you can install various packages without breaking a sweat, ensuring that your system is fully equipped to meet your software needs.

Memcached vs. Redis: Unveiling the Differences

Memcached and Redis both stand as prominent in-memory caching systems, each with its unique features and advantages. While they share some similarities, there are significant differences that set them apart.

A Comparative Analysis


  • A simple key-value store.
  • Optimized for read-heavy workloads.


  • A complex data structure server.
  • Supports various data types and operations.

Advantages and Disadvantages

  • Memcached: Faster for read-heavy workloads due to its simplicity.
  • Redis: More versatile, suitable for a wide range of use cases.

Memcached’s Object Size Limit

Memcached imposes a limit on the size of objects that can be stored in its cache. By default, this limit is set to 1MB, but it’s possible to adjust this size according to your needs.

Understanding Object Size Limit

The maximum object size in Memcached is determined by the ‘max_item_size’ configuration parameter. This parameter controls the size of data that can be stored in the cache.

Increasing the Object Size Limit

To expand the maximum object size in Memcached, you’ll need to modify the ‘max_item_size’ parameter in the configuration file, typically located at ‘/etc/memcached.conf’. Use a text editor like nano or vim to edit the file and change the ‘max_item_size’ value to your desired size.

Making the Transition: ‘python-memcached’ to ‘pymemcached’

‘pymemcached’ serves as a Python client for Memcached, offering superior performance and more features compared to ‘python-memcached.’ Transitioning between the two is a seamless process.

The ‘pymemcached’ Advantage

  • Enhanced performance and scalability.
  • Advanced features such as consistent hashing and SASL authentication.

The End of Python 2 Era

Python 2 has reached its end-of-life, and it’s no longer supported by the community. This has implications for the ‘python-memcache’ package.

The End of Support

Python 2 reached its end-of-life on January 1, 2020, meaning it no longer receives bug fixes or security updates from the community.

Impact on ‘python-memcache’

The ‘python-memcache’ package exclusively supports Python 2. Users desiring to utilize Memcached with Python 3 will need to explore alternative packages like ‘pymemcached.’

Best Practices for Memcached

To harness the full potential of Memcached, it’s crucial to follow these best practices:

Setting Appropriate Expiration Times

Ensure cached data has a reasonable expiration time to prevent the cache from accumulating stale data. The expiration time should be determined by the data’s volatility.

Employing Consistent Hashing

Consistent hashing helps distribute data evenly across Memcached servers, resulting in enhanced performance and scalability.

Enhancing Security with SASL and TLS

To fortify the security of your Memcached setup, use SASL for authentication and TLS for data encryption both at rest and in transit.

Python Example:

Using pymemcache (Python client for Memcached):

Java Example:

Using spymemcached (Java client for Memcached):

C# Example:

Using Enyim.Caching (C# client for Memcached):

PHP Example:

Using Memcached (PHP extension for Memcached):


In this article, we embarked on a journey through the intricate landscape of Memcached and its invaluable role in optimizing web applications. We began by unveiling the reasons behind the challenges users face when installing the ‘python-memcache’ package on Ubuntu. Our step-by-step guide illuminated the path to resolution, empowering users to overcome this common issue. But we didn’t stop there; we also delved into solutions for other frequently encountered installation hiccups.

We explored the essential differences between Memcached and Redis, enabling a clear understanding of their respective strengths and use cases. We scrutinized Memcached’s object size limitations and deciphered how to extend these limits, granting greater flexibility to your caching endeavors.

Furthermore, we highlighted best practices for Memcached usage, emphasizing the importance of setting appropriate expiration times, leveraging consistent hashing for optimal data distribution, and fortifying your Memcached setup with SASL and TLS for the ultimate security.

By heeding the advice and guidance provided in this article, developers are equipped with the tools and knowledge needed to fine-tune their web applications and services using Memcached. Optimization is at your fingertips, and the possibilities are boundless.

This conclusion sums up the key takeaways from your article. If you have any further adjustments or additions, please feel free to let me know.

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