How do I execute a program or call a system command in Python?

Better Stack Team
Updated on January 24, 2023

In Python, you can execute a system command using the os.system. However, is a much better alternative. The official also documentation recommends over the os.system.

Let’s look at an example. In the following code, ls command will be executed along with the -la option:

import subprocess['ls', '-la'])

The run method takes an array argument where the first element of the array is the program, you want to call and the rest of the elements are program arguments that will be passed to the program, unlike the c/c++ equivalent exec where the first argument has to be the name of the program. The method also returns an integer value representing the exit code of the called program.

Got an article suggestion? Let us know
Explore more
Licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

We are hiring.

Software is our way of making the world a tiny bit better. We build tools for the makers of tomorrow.

Explore all positions →

Reliability is the
ultimate feature

Delightful observability tools that turn your logs & monitoring into a secret weapon for shipping better software faster.

Explore Better Stack