Module std::process

1.0.0 · source ·
Expand description

A module for working with processes.

This module is mostly concerned with spawning and interacting with child processes, but it also provides abort and exit for terminating the current process.

§Spawning a process

The Command struct is used to configure and spawn processes:

use std::process::Command;

let output = Command::new("echo")
    .arg("Hello world")
    .expect("Failed to execute command");

assert_eq!(b"Hello world\n", output.stdout.as_slice());

Several methods on Command, such as spawn or output, can be used to spawn a process. In particular, output spawns the child process and waits until the process terminates, while spawn will return a Child that represents the spawned child process.

§Handling I/O

The stdout, stdin, and stderr of a child process can be configured by passing an Stdio to the corresponding method on Command. Once spawned, they can be accessed from the Child. For example, piping output from one command into another command can be done like so:

use std::process::{Command, Stdio};

// stdout must be configured with `Stdio::piped` in order to use
// `echo_child.stdout`
let echo_child = Command::new("echo")
    .arg("Oh no, a tpyo!")
    .expect("Failed to start echo process");

// Note that `echo_child` is moved here, but we won't be needing
// `echo_child` anymore
let echo_out = echo_child.stdout.expect("Failed to open echo stdout");

let mut sed_child = Command::new("sed")
    .expect("Failed to start sed process");

let output = sed_child.wait_with_output().expect("Failed to wait on sed");
assert_eq!(b"Oh no, a typo!\n", output.stdout.as_slice());

Note that ChildStderr and ChildStdout implement Read and ChildStdin implements Write:

use std::process::{Command, Stdio};
use std::io::Write;

let mut child = Command::new("/bin/cat")
    .expect("failed to execute child");

// If the child process fills its stdout buffer, it may end up
// waiting until the parent reads the stdout, and not be able to
// read stdin in the meantime, causing a deadlock.
// Writing from another thread ensures that stdout is being read
// at the same time, avoiding the problem.
let mut stdin = child.stdin.take().expect("failed to get stdin");
std::thread::spawn(move || {
    stdin.write_all(b"test").expect("failed to write to stdin");

let output = child
    .expect("failed to wait on child");

assert_eq!(b"test", output.stdout.as_slice());

§Windows argument splitting

On Unix systems arguments are passed to a new process as an array of strings but on Windows arguments are passed as a single commandline string and it’s up to the child process to parse it into an array. Therefore the parent and child processes must agree on how the commandline string is encoded.

Most programs use the standard C run-time argv, which in practice results in consistent argument handling. However some programs have their own way of parsing the commandline string. In these cases using arg or args may result in the child process seeing a different array of arguments then the parent process intended.

Two ways of mitigating this are:

  • Validate untrusted input so that only a safe subset is allowed.
  • Use raw_arg to build a custom commandline. This bypasses the escaping rules used by arg so should be used with due caution.

cmd.exe and .bat use non-standard argument parsing and are especially vulnerable to malicious input as they may be used to run arbitrary shell commands. Untrusted arguments should be restricted as much as possible. For examples on handling this see raw_arg.

§Bat file special handling

On Windows, Command uses the Windows API function CreateProcessW to spawn new processes. An undocumented feature of this function is that, when given a .bat file as the application to run, it will automatically convert that into running cmd.exe /c with the bat file as the next argument.

For historical reasons Rust currently preserves this behaviour when using Command::new, and escapes the arguments according to cmd.exe rules. Due to the complexity of cmd.exe argument handling, it might not be possible to safely escape some special chars, and using them will result in an error being returned at process spawn. The set of unescapeable special chars might change between releases.

Also note that running .bat scripts in this way may be removed in the future and so should not be relied upon.


  • Representation of a running or exited child process.
  • A handle to a child process’s stderr.
  • A handle to a child process’s standard input (stdin).
  • A handle to a child process’s standard output (stdout).
  • A process builder, providing fine-grained control over how a new process should be spawned.
  • An iterator over the command arguments.
  • An iterator over the command environment variables.
  • This type represents the status code the current process can return to its parent under normal termination.
  • Describes the result of a process after it has terminated.
  • The output of a finished process.
  • Describes what to do with a standard I/O stream for a child process when passed to the stdin, stdout, and stderr methods of Command.
  • ExitStatusErrorExperimental
    Describes the result of a process after it has failed


  • A trait for implementing arbitrary return types in the main function.


  • Terminates the process in an abnormal fashion.
  • Terminates the current process with the specified exit code.
  • Returns the OS-assigned process identifier associated with this process.