Skip to content

run_shell_cmd function

(for a full overview of changes in EasyBuild v5.0, see here)

In EasyBuild v5.0, a new function named run_shell_cmd is introduced to run shell commands.

This function replaces both the run_cmd and run_cmd_qa functions, which will be deprecated in EasyBuild v5.0.


Over the years run_cmd and run_cmd_qa accumulated a lot of arguments which sometimes have misleading names. Moreover they have two different kinds of return values (depending on whether called with simple=True or simple=False). So a new command run_shell_cmd is introduced to replace both, using more direct and natural arguments, and as a bonus, better error reporting. In line with --trace being set by default, run_shell_cmd is now also more verbose by default.

High-level overview

First of all run_shell_cmd has been designed so the defaults can be used for most situations. In that case the main thing to watch out for is the return code, which changed from a tuple (output, exit_code) to a named tuple with multiple fields, the most prominent ones being:

  • output: command output, stdout+stderr combined if split_stderr is disabled, only stdout otherwise
  • exit_code: exit code of command (integer)
  • stderr: stderr output if split_stderr is enabled, None otherwise

A typical transition will then change

(out, _) = run_cmd(cmd, log_all=True, simple=False)


res = run_shell_cmd(cmd)
out = res.output

Use cases


  • Basic usage:
cmd = ' '.join([self.cfg['preinstallopts'], install_cmd, self.cfg['installopts']])
  • Get error code for both failure and non-failure of the command, as otherwise run_shell_cmd will raise RunShellCmdError. Additionally, don't display this command in terminal output:
cmd = "cmake --version"
res = run_shell_cmd(cmd, hidden=True, fail_on_error=False)
out = res.output
ec = res.exit_code

Transitioning from run_cmd and run_cmd_qa to run_shell_cmd

For parameters in general, the following translation table can be used, where the default values are shown:

run_cmd / run_cmd_qa parameter run_shell_cmd parameter meaning
cmd cmd command to run
log_all=False (removed) always log command output and exit code (now always True)
simple=False (removed) if True, just return True/False to indicate success (obsolete)
regexp=True (removed) regex used to check the output for errors (obsolete)
log_ok=True fail_on_error=True fail on non-zero exit code
split_error=False split of stderr from stdout output (new feature)
inp=None stdin=None the input given to the command via stdin
env=None environment to use to run command (if None, inherit current process environment) (new feature)
trace=True hidden=False don't show command in terminal output with --trace, or --extended-dry-run / -x)
force_in_dry_run=False in_dry_run=False also run command in dry run mode
verbose=True verbose_dry_run=False show that command is run in dry run mode (overrules --hidden)
path=None work_dir=None working directory to run command in (current working directory if None)
shell=None use_bash=True execute command through bash shell (run_cmd enables this for None)
log_output=False output_file=True collect command output in temporary output file (changed default)
stream_output=None stream_output=None stream command output to stdout (auto-enabled with --logtostdout if None)
asynchronous=False asynchronous=False run command asynchronously
with_hooks=True with_hooks=True trigger pre/post run_cmd or run_shell_cmd hooks
qa and std_qa=None qa_patterns=None list of 2-tuples with patterns for questions + corresponding answers
no_qa=None qa_wait_patterns=None list of strings with patterns for non-questions
maxhits=50 qa_timeout=100 amount of seconds to wait until more output is produced when there is no matching question