subprocess.Popen to multiprocessing [Explained]

Moving from subprocess.Popen to multiprocessing in Python involves transitioning from running external processes to executing multiple tasks concurrently within the same Python process. Here’s a comparison of the two approaches and how to migrate your code:


subprocess.Popen is used to create and manage child processes. It’s typically used when you want to run external programs or scripts from your Python code. Each Popen instance represents a separate process, and you can communicate with it using pipes or files.

Here’s an example of using subprocess.Popen to run an external command and capture its output:

import subprocess

cmd = "ls -l"
process = subprocess.Popen(cmd, shell=True, stdout=subprocess.PIPE, stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
stdout, stderr = process.communicate()Code language: Python (python)


multiprocessing is a Python library for concurrent programming. It allows you to create multiple processes within the same Python program, enabling parallelism and better utilization of multicore CPUs.

Here’s an example of how you can use multiprocessing to run multiple tasks concurrently:

import multiprocessing

def worker_function(task):
    # Do some work with the task
    result = task * 2
    return result

if __name__ == "__main__":
    tasks = [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
    with multiprocessing.Pool(processes=4) as pool:
        results =, tasks)
    print(results)Code language: Python (python)

In this example, multiprocessing.Pool is used to create a pool of worker processes. The map function is used to distribute the tasks among the workers, and the results are collected.

Migrating from subprocess.Popen to multiprocessing:

To migrate from subprocess.Popen to multiprocessing, you need to rewrite your code to perform the desired tasks using multiple processes. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Identify the tasks that can be performed concurrently within your Python program.
  2. Define functions or methods that represent the work to be done for each task. These functions should take input parameters and return results.
  3. Create a multiprocessing.Pool and use the map method to distribute the tasks among the pool of worker processes.
  4. Collect and process the results as needed.

Remember that not all tasks can be easily parallelized, and the effectiveness of using multiprocessing depends on the nature of the tasks and your system’s hardware. Additionally, be aware of potential issues like shared data and synchronization when working with multiple processes.

Example For subprocess.Popen to multiprocessing

If you want to combine the use of subprocess with multiprocessing for running multiple subprocesses in parallel, This example is indeed a valid approach. It creates a worker pool using multiprocessing to run subprocess.Popen calls with different indices concurrently.

import multiprocessing
import subprocess

def func(index):
    # Define your subprocess command here
    cmd = "your_command_here --index {}".format(index)
    # Run the subprocess using subprocess.Popen
    process = subprocess.Popen(cmd, shell=True, stdout=subprocess.PIPE)
    # You can capture the subprocess output or perform other operations here
    # For example, to capture the output:
    stdout, _ = process.communicate()
    # You can process the output or do something else with it as needed
    print(f"Output for index {index}:")

if __name__ == '__main__':
    # Create a multiprocessing.Pool with as many worker processes as CPU cores
    with multiprocessing.Pool(multiprocessing.cpu_count()) as p:
        # Map the func function to a range of indices, range(1, 100))Code language: Python (python)

In this code:

  • Replace "your_command_here --index {}" with the actual command you want to run, where {} is a placeholder for the index.
  • The func function represents the work to be done for each index. It uses subprocess.Popen to execute the specified command with the given index and captures the output (stdout).
  • Inside the if __name__ == '__main__': block, a multiprocessing.Pool is created with the number of worker processes equal to the number of CPU cores available on your system.
  •, range(1, 100)) maps the func function to a range of indices (1 to 99), distributing the work among the worker processes and running the subprocesses concurrently.

This code demonstrates how to run multiple subprocesses concurrently using multiprocessing while customizing the subprocess command for each index.

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  • Abdullah Walied Allama

    Abdullah Walied Allama is a driven programmer who earned his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Alexandria University's Faculty of Computer and Data Science. He is passionate about constructing problem-solving models and excels in various technical skills, including Python, data science, data analysis, Java, SQL, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

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