Launching an independent Python program in a cross-platform way (including mac)

Kevin Walzer kw at
Mon Apr 30 15:59:16 CEST 2007

Prateek wrote:
> On Apr 30, 4:32 am, André <andre.robe... at> wrote:
>> I would like to find out how I can launch an independent Python
>> program from existing one in a cross-platform way.  The result I am
>> after is that a new terminal window should open (for io independent of
>> the original script).
>> The following seems to work correctly under Ubuntu and Windows ... but
>> I haven't been able to find a way to make it work under Mac OS.
>> def exec_external(code, path):
>>     """execute code in an external process
>>     currently works under:
>>         * Windows NT (tested)
>>         * GNOME (tested)  [January 2nd and 15th change untested]
>>     This also needs to be implemented for OS X, KDE
>>     and some form of linux fallback (xterm?)
>>     """
>>     if == 'nt':
>>         current_dir = os.getcwd()
>>         target_dir, fname = os.path.split(path)
>>     filename = open(path, 'w')
>>     filename.write(code)
>>     filename.close()
>>     if == 'nt':
>>         os.chdir(target_dir) # change dir so as to deal with paths
>> that
>>                              # include spaces
>>         Popen(["cmd.exe", ('/c start python %s'%fname)])
>>         os.chdir(current_dir)
>>     elif == 'posix':
>>         try:
>>             os.spawnlp(os.P_NOWAIT, 'gnome-terminal', 'gnome-
>> terminal',
>>                                 '-x', 'python', '%s'%path)
>>         except:
>>             raise NotImplementedError
>>     else:
>>         raise NotImplementedError
>> ==========================
>> Any help would be greatly appreciated.
>> André
> Well,
> You need to check sys.platform on the Mac instead of
> returns 'posix' on all *nix based systems. sys.platform
> helpfully returns "darwin" on the Mac.
> Not sure how to start Terminal. Here's what I got when I tried it:
>>>> if sys.platform == "darwin": os.spawnlp(os.P_NOWAIT, '/Applications/Utilities/')
> 9460
>>>> 2007-04-30 05:19:59.255 [9460] No Info.plist file in application bundle or no NSPrincipalClass in the Info.plist file, exiting

There are extension modules on the Mac for integrating Python and 
AppleScript (the best one is appscript). However, if you want to limit 
yourself to core Python, your best best is osascript, a system 
command-tool that lets you call AppleScript code with arguments from 
other programs. This can be called via os.system.

The basis syntax for doing this from Python might look something like this:

os.system('osascript -e \'tell app \"Terminal\" to activate\'')

This simply launches Terminal. Note that you have to deal with quoting 
issues. The equivalent syntax from AppleScript would be:

tell app "Terminal" to activate

If you want to Terminal to run a command-line program from AppleScript, 
you can do this with the "do script" command. Code to do this could look 
something like this:

myscript = "python -e"
os.system('osascript -e '\tell app \"Terminal"\ to do script %s\'', 

I haven't tested this, but you get the basic idea--define the script and 
command-line paramaters in a string, then pass that to 
AppleScript/osascript as a variable.  This code should launch Terminal, 
then run the external Python script.


Kevin Walzer
Code by Kevin

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