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A minimalist REST/JSON API into the Python subprocess module.
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Subprocess API


  • Standalone Python script that runs a basic HTTP server based on Python's BaseHTTPServer.
  • Provides a REST+JSON API into the Python Subprocess module.
  • Uses only the Python standard library and no additional third party packages.
  • Tested with Python 2.7 but might work on other Python 2.x versions.
  • Released under the GNU GPL.
  • Supported by the SwiftRiver team.



This will run the HTTP server on localhost port 8000 by default. If you would like to customise this, change the HOST and PORT settings at the top of the script.


This script was written to be used inside a fully trusted environment (including the client, the server and the network). Running this in an untrusted environment is not recommended.


The request needs to be an HTTP POST with the request body being a JSON object with the following attributes:

  • args Required string or array
  • stdin Optional string
  • shell Optional boolean

For more details on the use of the above, please consult the documentation on


A successful response will have an HTTP code of 200 and an error response will have an HTTP code of 500. In either case, the Content-Type will be set to application/json and the response body will be a JSON object.


The returned JSON object will have the following attributes on a successful call:

  • returncode The return code of the executed command as an integer.
  • stdout The contents of the stdout stream as a string.
  • stderr The contents of the stderr stream as a string.


The returned JSON object will have the following attributes on an unsuccessful call:

  • error The full Python stack trace of the error as a string.


$ curl -d '{"args":["ls","/"]}' localhost:8000
{"returncode": 0, "stderr": "", "stdout": "bin\nboot\ncdrom\ndev\netc\nhome\ninitrd.img\nlib\nlib32\nlib64\nlost+found\nmedia\nmnt\nopt\nproc\nroot\nrun\nsbin\nselinux\nsrv\nsys\ntmp\nusr\nvar\nvmlinuz\n"}
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