Can We Do Shell Scripting in Python?


Scott Campbell

Shell scripting is a powerful tool that allows us to automate tasks in a Unix-like operating system. Traditionally, shell scripts are written using languages like Bash or Csh.

However, did you know that you can also do shell scripting in Python? Yes, that’s right! Python provides a way for us to execute shell commands and scripts seamlessly.

What is Shell Scripting?

Before we dive into the world of Python and shell scripting, let’s briefly understand what shell scripting is. In simple terms, a shell script is a program that consists of a sequence of commands written in a scripting language and executed by the command-line interpreter or shell.

Why Use Python for Shell Scripting?

Python is known for its simplicity and readability. It has gained immense popularity among developers due to its ease of use and powerful features. By leveraging Python for shell scripting, we can take advantage of its extensive standard library, which includes modules for interacting with the operating system, file handling, regular expressions, and much more.

Here are some reasons why using Python for shell scripting can be beneficial:

  • Improved Readability: Python’s clean syntax makes scripts easy to read and understand.
  • Broad Range of Libraries: The vast collection of libraries available in Python simplifies many complex tasks.
  • Cross-platform Compatibility: Python runs on various operating systems, making your scripts portable.
  • Better Error Handling: Python provides robust error handling mechanisms compared to traditional shell scripting languages.

Executing Shell Commands in Python

Python provides several ways to execute shell commands within your scripts. One common method is by using the `subprocess` module. This module allows you to spawn new processes, connect them to input/output/error pipes, and obtain their return codes.

Here’s an example that demonstrates how to execute a shell command using Python’s `subprocess` module:

import subprocess

# Execute a shell command
output = subprocess.check_output(“ls -l”, shell=True)

# Print the output

In the above example, the `check_output` function from the `subprocess` module is used to execute the “ls -l” command, which lists the files and directories in the current directory. The output of the command is then printed to the console.

Writing Shell Scripts in Python

Python allows us to write complete shell scripts by combining shell commands, control flow statements, and Python code. This flexibility empowers us to create powerful scripts that can automate complex tasks.

Let’s take a look at an example of a simple Python shell script:

#!/usr/bin/env python

import os

# Get the current working directory
current_directory = os.getcwd()

# List all files in the current directory
files = os.listdir(current_directory)

# Display each file name
for file_name in files:

In this script, we import the `os` module to interact with the operating system. We then use `os.getcwd()` to retrieve the current working directory and `os.listdir()` to list all files in that directory. Finally, we iterate over each file name and print it to the console.

To run this script, save it with a `.py` extension (e.g., ``) and execute it using a Python interpreter:



Shell scripting is a valuable skill for automating tasks on Unix-like systems. With Python’s extensive standard library and its ability to execute shell commands seamlessly, you can leverage its power for writing efficient and readable shell scripts.

In this article, we explored the benefits of using Python for shell scripting and learned how to execute shell commands and write complete shell scripts in Python. Remember to experiment and explore the various modules and features that Python offers for shell scripting, as it can greatly enhance your productivity.

Now that you know that you can do shell scripting in Python, why not give it a try? Dive into the world of Python shell scripting and unlock endless possibilities for automating your tasks. Happy scripting!

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