36.16. commands — Utilities for running commands

Deprecated since version 2.6: The commands module has been removed in Python 3. Use the subprocess module instead.

The commands module contains wrapper functions for os.popen() which take a system command as a string and return any output generated by the command and, optionally, the exit status.

The subprocess module provides more powerful facilities for spawning new processes and retrieving their results. Using the subprocess module is preferable to using the commands module.


In Python 3.x, getstatus() and two undocumented functions (mk2arg() and mkarg()) have been removed. Also, getstatusoutput() and getoutput() have been moved to the subprocess module.

The commands module defines the following functions:


Execute the string cmd in a shell with os.popen() and return a 2-tuple (status, output). cmd is actually run as { cmd ; } 2>&1, so that the returned output will contain output or error messages. A trailing newline is stripped from the output. The exit status for the command can be interpreted according to the rules for the C function wait().


Like getstatusoutput(), except the exit status is ignored and the return value is a string containing the command’s output.


Return the output of ls -ld file as a string. This function uses the getoutput() function, and properly escapes backslashes and dollar signs in the argument.

Deprecated since version 2.6: This function is nonobvious and useless. The name is also misleading in the presence of getstatusoutput().


>>> import commands
>>> commands.getstatusoutput('ls /bin/ls')
(0, '/bin/ls')
>>> commands.getstatusoutput('cat /bin/junk')
(256, 'cat: /bin/junk: No such file or directory')
>>> commands.getstatusoutput('/bin/junk')
(256, 'sh: /bin/junk: not found')
>>> commands.getoutput('ls /bin/ls')
>>> commands.getstatus('/bin/ls')
'-rwxr-xr-x  1 root        13352 Oct 14  1994 /bin/ls'

See also

Module subprocess
Module for spawning and managing subprocesses.

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