I'm trying to write a simple commandline wrapper: a script that runs
another program as a child and relays unbuffered stdin and stdout
to/from the child process, possibly filtering it.

The usefulness of such a program lies in the filtering stage, in a
possible integration with readline, or in other interface enhancements.

Still, I'd like to discuss with you the unfiltered, unembellished
version, because I'm not satisfied with it and because I'm having some
minor problems.

Here's the script:


import sys, os, thread

def stdin_handler(child_stdin):
while True:
d = sys.stdin.read(1)
if not d: break

def stdout_handler(child_stdout):
while True:
d = child_stdout.read(1)
if not d: break
except KeyboardInterrupt:

def wrap(cmd):
child_stdin, child_stdout = os.popen2(cmd)
thread.start_new_thread(stdin_handler, (child_stdin,))

if __name__ == '__main__':

You invoke it passing a program name as the first argument (such as
bash, python itself, sbcl, whatever) and then you interact with the
child process as if this wrapper wasn't there. Ctrl-C and Ctrl-D work
as expected, sending SIGINT (that the child program can catch) and
closing stdin respectively.



I don't like the read(1) loops. I'd like to be able to read bigger
chunks at a time, but I haven't found a way to do that while keeping the
functionality intact. I have tried fidgeting with select() but I didn't
get far. What I (think I) need is a non-blocking read(), but I'm not
sure how to achieve that, at least with Python 2.4 on Linux.


Even this version sometimes has problems. For example, if you launch
the wrapper around sbcl (a free Lisp interpreter/compiler) it mostly
works (entering 1 gives 1, entering (+ 2 3) gives 5...) until you get to
the debugger, for example by entering an undefined name. Now, when the
debugger says "0: [ABORT] Exit debugger...", entering 0 should get you
back to the "*" prompt--and indeed does, unless you are using my
wrapper, in which case everything hangs, and the only solution is to
terminate everything with Ctrl-\ or such.

Any idea how to improve the script and solve this problem?


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  • Toby A Inkster at Jan 28, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Toby wrote:

    Any idea how to improve the script and solve this problem?
    Hello Toby, excellent name you have there. What advantage (if any) does
    this method have over standard UNIX-style pipes?

    Toby A Inkster BSc (Hons) ARCS
    Contact Me ~ http://tobyinkster.co.uk/contact
  • Toby at Jan 28, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Toby A Inkster wrote:
    Hello Toby, excellent name you have there.
    Why, thank you!
    What advantage (if any) does this method have over standard UNIX-style
    The advantage is being able to write my own filters and input/output
    modules and have as small a granularity as needed (while standard UNIX
    filters such as cat, grep, sed and awk process entire lines at a time.)
    For example I can launch an interactive shell of some kind and use it
    both from the terminal I opened it in, and from the network, if my
    script is listening on a socket.

    By the way, I am using standard UNIX pipes, that's how popen() works!


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postedJan 27, '07 at 3:52p
activeJan 28, '07 at 3:50p

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Toby: 2 posts Toby A Inkster: 1 post



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