What Is Python System Scripting?


Larry Thompson

Python System Scripting is a powerful and versatile tool for automating tasks and managing system resources. It allows developers to interact with the operating system, execute commands, and perform various administrative tasks. With Python’s simplicity and flexibility, system scripting becomes a breeze.

Why Use Python for System Scripting?

Python, with its easy-to-read syntax and extensive standard library, makes it an ideal choice for system scripting. Its rich collection of modules allows developers to access various functionalities, such as file manipulation, networking, process management, and more. Moreover, Python’s cross-platform compatibility ensures that scripts can be run on different operating systems without modification.

Executing System Commands

To execute system commands using Python, we can leverage the subprocess module. This module provides functions to create new processes, connect to their input/output/error pipes, and obtain their return codes.

To execute a command in Python:

  1. Import the subprocess module:
  2. import subprocess
  3. Create a subprocess:
  4. subprocess.run(['command', 'argument1', 'argument2'])
  5. Access the output:
  6. output = subprocess.run(['command'], capture_output=True).stdout

Example: Running ‘ls’ Command

To illustrate how to execute a command using Python’s subprocess module, let’s run the ‘ls’ command (which lists files in a directory) on Linux or macOS:

import subprocess

output = subprocess.run(['ls'], capture_output=True).stdout

This script will print the list of files in the current directory.

Automating Tasks

Python System Scripting is not limited to executing single commands. It can also be used to automate complex tasks by combining multiple commands and functionalities.

For example, let’s say we want to create a script that performs a backup of specific files and directories:

import shutil

# Files and directories to backup
source = ['/path/to/file1', '/path/to/directory']

# Destination directory
destination = '/path/to/backup'

# Create the backup
shutil.copytree(source, destination)

This script uses the shutil.copytree() function from the shutil module to copy files and directories from the source to the destination directory, effectively creating a backup.


Python System Scripting is a valuable skill for system administrators and developers alike. It provides an intuitive way to interact with the operating system, execute commands, and automate tasks. With its extensive library support and cross-platform compatibility, Python makes system scripting both powerful and accessible.

In this article, we explored how to execute system commands using Python’s subprocess module and how to automate tasks by combining multiple functionalities. Armed with this knowledge, you can now dive into Python System Scripting and unleash its potential for managing system resources efficiently.

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