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Executing commands in a subprocess

MILC provides some tools to make running subcommands easier and more convienent to work with.

Basic Subprocess Execution

You can use to easily and safely run shell commands. The first argument to should be an argument list, which is a list or tuple containing the command and any arguments you want to pass in. For example, if you wanted to run a git command you might build this argument list:

git_cmd = ['git', '-C', '/srv/web/htdocs', 'pull']

This is all you need to do to run that command:

p =

This will return a subprocess.CompletedProcess instance. You can examine attributes such as p.returncode, p.stderr, and p.stdout to see the fate of the process.

Supported Arguments

Argument Default Description
command A sequence of arguments for the command to be run. The first element is the command to be executed.
capture_output True When False output from the subprocess is written directly to STDOUT and STDERR.
combined_output False When True STDERR will be combined with STDOUT.
text True When False STDOUT and STDERR will return binary data.
**kwargs Any unrecognized argument will be passed to

Differences from

MILC's differs from in some important ways.

Windows Support

When running inside a windows console (Powershell, DOS, Cygwin, Msys2) there are some quirks that MILC attempts to handle but which you need to be aware of:

  • Commands are always run in a subshell, so that non-executable files and POSIX paths work seemlessly.
  • Windows leaves stdin in a broken state after executing a subprocess. To avoid this MILC adds stdin=DEVNULL to the call. If you need stdin to work in your executed process you can pass stdin=None.

Building argument lists

The most important way MILC differs from is that it only accepts commands that have already been split into sequences. A lot of bugs are caused by mistakes in building command strings that are later split into a sequence of arguments in unexpected ways.

Capture Output

By default captures STDOUT and STDERR. If you'd like that output to be written to the terminal instead you can pass capture_output=False.

Combining STDERR with STDOUT

If you'd like to combine STDOUT and STDERR into one stream (similar to the shell construct 2>&1) you can pass combined_output=True.

Text Encoding

By default STDOUT and STDERR will be opened as text. If you'd like these to be bytes instead of text you can pass text=False.

Other Arguments

All other arguments are passed directly to You can use these to further tweak the behavior of your subprocesses.