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PHP Manual


(PHP 4, PHP 5)

popenOpens process file pointer


resource popen ( string $command , string $mode )

Opens a pipe to a process executed by forking the command given by command.



The command


The mode

Return Values

Returns a file pointer identical to that returned by fopen(), except that it is unidirectional (may only be used for reading or writing) and must be closed with pclose(). This pointer may be used with fgets(), fgetss(), and fwrite(). When the mode is 'r', the returned file pointer equals to the STDOUT of the command, when the mode is 'w', the returned file pointer equals to the STDIN of the command.

If an error occurs, returns FALSE.


Example #1 popen() example


If the command to be executed could not be found, a valid resource is returned. This may seem odd, but makes sense; it allows you to access any error message returned by the shell:

Example #2 popen() example


/* Add redirection so we can get stderr. */
$handle popen('/path/to/executable 2>&1''r');
"'$handle'; " gettype($handle) . "\n";
$read fread($handle2096);



If you're looking for bi-directional support (two-way), use proc_open().

Note: When safe mode is enabled, you can only execute files within the safe_mode_exec_dir. For practical reasons, it is currently not allowed to have .. components in the path to the executable.


With safe mode enabled, the command string is escaped with escapeshellcmd(). Thus, echo y | echo x becomes echo y \| echo x.

See Also

  • pclose() - Closes process file pointer
  • fopen() - Opens file or URL
  • proc_open() - Execute a command and open file pointers for input/output

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