How to escape os.system() calls in Python?

Question!

When using os.system() it's often necessary to escape filenames and other arguments passed as parameters to commands. How can I do this? Preferably something that would work on multiple operating systems/shells but in particular for bash.

I'm currently doing the following, but am sure there must be a library function for this, or at least a more elegant/robust/efficient option:

def sh_escape(s):
   return s.replace("(","\\(").replace(")","\\)").replace(" ","\\ ")

os.system("cat %s | grep something | sort > %s" 
          % (sh_escape(in_filename), 
             sh_escape(out_filename)))

Edit: I've accepted the simple answer of using quotes, don't know why I didn't think of that; I guess because I came from Windows where ' and " behave a little differently.

Regarding security, I understand the concern, but, in this case, I'm interested in a quick and easy solution which os.system() provides, and the source of the strings is either not user-generated or at least entered by a trusted user (me).

By : Tom


Answers

shlex.quote() does what you want since python 3.

(Use pipes.quote to support both python 2 and python 3)

By : pixelbeat


This is what I use:

def shellquote(s):
    return "'" + s.replace("'", "'\\''") + "'"

The shell will always accept a quoted filename and remove the surrounding quotes before passing it to the program in question. Notably, this avoids problems with filenames that contain spaces or any other kind of nasty shell metacharacter.

Update: If you are using Python 3.3 or later, use shlex.quote instead of rolling your own.



Note that pipes.quote is actually broken in Python 2.5 and Python 3.1 and not safe to use--It doesn't handle zero-length arguments.

>>> from pipes import quote
>>> args = ['arg1', '', 'arg3']
>>> print 'mycommand %s' % (' '.join(quote(arg) for arg in args))
mycommand arg1  arg3

See Python issue 7476; it has been fixed in Python 2.6 and 3.2 and newer.



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