popen function of os and subprocess modules

Benjamin Kaplan benjamin.kaplan at case.edu
Wed Oct 28 15:18:56 CET 2009

On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 9:39 AM, banu <varun.nagpaal at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> I am a novice in python. I was trying to write a simple script on
> Linux (python 3.0) that does the following
> #cd directory
> #ls -l
> I use the following code, but it doesn't work:
> import os
> directory = '/etc'
> pr = os.popen('cd %s' % directory,'w')
> pr.close()
> pr = os.popen('ls -l','w')                                      #
> prints the content of present folder and not '/etc'
> pr.close()
So, here's what you're doing manually.
1) Open up a terminal, type "cd /etc". And then close that terminal
2) Open up a new terminal, type "ls -l" and wonder why it's not in /etc

> Can anyone suggest me how to fix this simple script? Also what is the
> use of read(), readlines() and write() functions?

The os and os.path modules contain higher-level functions than popen.
Such as os.listdir and os.chdir (if you really want to change the
current directory for the program).

popen returns a file object. In your case, because you opened it in
write mode, it's stdin so write will send things to the program
(assuming it reads from stdin), and read/readlines are useless. If you
were to open it in read mode, pr would be stdout and you would use
pr.read() or pr.readlines() to get your directory list instead of
having it print out to the terminal. Or you could use os.popen2 or
subprocess.Popen (the newer, preferred, more complicated way) and get
both at once.

> Now, I also read in the online python documentation that os.popen is
> deprecated and no longer recommended in pyhton 3.0. Instead they ask
> to use subprocess.popen. I am not able to figure out how to accomplish
> my task with subprocess.poepn also. Can anyone suggest please?

For this example, where you just want to print stuff out,  just use

For more complicated examples:

pr = subprocess.Popen(['ls','-l'],stdout=subprocess.PIPE)
file_list = pr.stdout.readlines()

> Regards
> Varun
> --
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/python-list

More information about the Python-list mailing list