Solve Python Error: Subprocess-Exited-With-Error

Python’s subprocess module provides a convenient way to spawn new processes, but encountering the “Subprocess Exited With Error” message can be perplexing for developers. This error often occurs when a subprocess initiated by Python fails to execute successfully, and it can stem from various issues. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore common reasons behind the “Subprocess Exited With Error” message and offer practical solutions to troubleshoot and resolve this Python error.

Understanding the Subprocess Exited With Error Message


1. Understanding the “Subprocess Exited With Error” Message

Error Description

   – The error message indicates that a subprocess invoked by the Python script has terminated unexpectedly with an error. It doesn’t provide specific details about the cause, so further investigation is required to pinpoint the issue.

Common Scenarios

   – This error can manifest in scenarios involving external commands, scripts, or processes initiated using the subprocess module, such as calling system commands or running other Python scripts.

2. Inspecting the Error Output

Capture Standard Error (stderr)

   – When using the subprocess module, redirect and capture the standard error stream to gain insights into the error. Modify your subprocess call to include `stderr=subprocess.PIPE` and then retrieve the error output using `subprocess.communicate()`.

Examine Traceback

   – If the subprocess involves Python scripts, inspect the traceback provided in the error output. It might reveal specific errors, exceptions, or issues encountered during the subprocess execution.

3. Check Input and Arguments

Verify Command and Arguments

   – Confirm that the command and arguments passed to the subprocess call are accurate. Incorrect commands or arguments can lead to subprocess failures. Use absolute paths when specifying commands to avoid issues with the system’s PATH variable.

Escape Special Characters

   – If the command or arguments involve special characters, ensure they are properly escaped. Use quotes or backslashes to handle spaces, special characters, or any elements that might be misinterpreted by the command line.

4. Handle Paths and Environment Variables

Set Working Directory

   – If the subprocess relies on specific files or paths, set the working directory using the `cwd` parameter in the subprocess call. This ensures that the subprocess executes in the correct context.

Environment Variables

   – Certain subprocesses might depend on environment variables. Verify that the necessary variables are set correctly using the `env` parameter in the subprocess call.

Check Permissions and Access

5. Check Permissions and Access

File and Directory Permissions

   – Insufficient permissions to access files or directories involved in the subprocess can lead to errors. Ensure that the Python script has the necessary read, write, and execute permissions.

User Privileges

   – Depending on the subprocess, it may require elevated privileges. If running the script as a non-root user, consider using `sudo` or adjusting user permissions accordingly.

6. Handle Exceptions and Errors Gracefully

Use Try-Except Blocks

   – Enclose the subprocess call in a try-except block to capture exceptions and errors. This allows you to handle errors gracefully, log relevant information, and potentially recover from specific issues.

Error Codes and Signals

   – Check for error codes or signals returned by the subprocess. These codes can provide additional information about the nature of the failure. Use the `subprocess.returncode` attribute to access the exit code.

7. Logging and Debugging

Implement Logging

   – Introduce comprehensive logging throughout your Python script, especially around subprocess calls. Log relevant details such as the command executed, input parameters, and any error messages or exceptions encountered.

Debugging Techniques

   – Leverage Python’s built-in `pdb` (Python Debugger) or other debugging tools to step through your code. This allows you to identify the exact point where the subprocess fails and inspect variables and conditions during execution.


The “Subprocess Exited With Error” message in Python can be a result of various issues, ranging from incorrect commands and arguments to permission and access problems. By systematically inspecting error outputs, checking inputs and arguments, handling paths and environment variables, verifying permissions, and implementing robust exception handling, developers can troubleshoot and resolve this error effectively.

Remember that thorough logging, proper debugging techniques, and a methodical approach to subprocess calls contribute to more maintainable and resilient Python scripts. By addressing the root causes of the “Subprocess Exited With Error” message, developers can enhance the reliability of their Python applications and streamline the troubleshooting process.

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