Just as each chapter in this book has a corresponding IPython Notebook, each appendix also has a corresponding IPython Notebook. All notebooks, regardless of purpose, are maintained in the book’s GitHub source code repository. The particular appendix that you are reading here “in print” serves as a special cross-reference to the IPython Notebook that provides step-by-step instructions for how to install and configure the book’s virtual machine.
You are strongly encouraged to install the virtual machine as a development environment instead of using your existing Python installation, because there are some nontrivial configuration management issues involved in installing IPython Notebook and all of its dependencies for scientific computing. The various other third-party Python packages that are used throughout the book and the need to support users across multiple platforms only exacerbate the complexity that can be involved in getting a basic development environment up and running. Therefore, this book comes with a virtual machine that provides all readers and consumers of the source code with the least amount of friction possible to interactively follow along with the examples. Even if you are an expert in working with Python developer tools, you will still likely save some time by taking advantage of the book’s virtual machine experience on your first pass through the text. Give it a try. You’ll be glad that you did.