Using os.system() and string concatenation

Donn Cave donn at
Tue Oct 12 21:29:49 CEST 2004

In article <mailman.4764.1097606614.5135.python-list at>,
 Wayne Witzel III <wwitzel3 at> wrote:

> Using Python 2.3
> Currently I process three files and build the output of those files in
> to lists using for statements.
> I think take those lists and provide them to an os.system() call.
> cmd = "/usr/sbin/useradd"
> os.system(cmd + list1[0] + list1[1] + list2[0] + list3[0])
> This executes without any errors, but doesn't execute the command
> supplied to os.system(). Now if I place them all in cmd first, then
> supply it to os.system() it executes just fine. So there really isn't
> a problem, just wanting to know what would cause such behavior.

As already mentioned in other followups, could be white
space missing.

On the other hand, this looks to me like a very good place to
use os.spawnv instead of os.system.  It might resolve the
present problem, but much more importantly, it will avoid
more dangerous problems of a similar nature.  When you construct
a shell command out of data from files, data becomes shell
syntax, and there is in theory the possibility that the result
will be worse than just invalid, it may execute a different
command or different parameters than you had in mind, with a
wide range of potentially unpleasant results.

But spawnv() executes the command directly, with the parameters
you supply, unlike system() which invokes the shell.  So with
spawnv() you don't need white space, but more importantly the
only command that can run as a result is the one you specify.

  os.spawnv(os.P_WAIT, '/usr/sbin/useradd',
              ['useradd', list1[0], list1[1], list2[0], list3[0]])

   Donn Cave, donn at

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