top band

Saturday 11:30 a.m.–noon

Type python, press enter. What happens?

Philip James, Asheesh Laroia

Audience level:
Systems Administration


This talk discusses how the Python interpreter starts, from the perspective of the operating system (OS). Together, we will see the ins & outs of processes: fork(), exec(), stdin, and stdout. It focuses on OS concepts and requires no background knowledge, using analogies to Python data structures. (The talk does not discuss Python’s own initialization, such as or global variables.)


This talk explains the basics of what happens when you start a Python interpreter from a command prompt. It covers the following topics: - What a process ID is. - What it means to forking a subprocess, and what environment variables are. - How $PATH affects what your shell does. - The underlying meaning of shell quoting. - The difference between three ways to exit Python: exit(), ^C, and ^D.
bottom band background