Inter-Process Communication

Programs running other programs and communicating with them


Many programs need to be able to run other programs. Running a program in Perl 6 is as easy as:

run 'git''status';

This line runs the program named "git" and passes "git" and "status" to its command-line. It will find the program using the %*ENV<PATH> setting.

If you would like to run a program by sending a command-line to the shell, there's a tool for that as well. All shell meta characters are interpreted by the shell, including pipes, redirects, environment variable substitutions and so on.

shell 'ls -lR | gzip -9 > ls-lR.gz';

Caution should be taken when using shell with user input.


Both run and shell return a Proc object, which can be used to communicate with the process in more detail. Please note that unless you close all output pipes, the program will usually not terminate.

my $git = run 'git''log''--oneline':out;
for $git.out.lines -> $line {
    my ($sha$subject= $line.split: ' '2;
    say "$subject [$sha]";

You can tell the Proc object to capture output as a file handle by passing the :out and :err flags. You may also pass input via the :in flag.

my $echo = run 'echo''Hello, world':out;
my $cat  = run 'cat''-n':in($echo.out), :out;
say $cat.out.get;

You may also use Proc to capture the PID, send signals to the application, and check the exitcode.

my $crontab = run 'crontab''-l';
if $crontab.exitcode == 0 {
    say 'crontab -l ran ok';
else {
    say 'something went wrong';


When you need more control over the communication with and from another process, you will want to make use of Proc::Async. This class provides support for asynchronous communication with a program, as well as the ability to send signals to that program.

# Get ready to run the program 
my $log ='tail''-f',  '/var/log/system.log');
$log.stdout.tap(-> $buf { print $buf });
$log.stderr.tap(-> $buf { $*ERR.print($buf});
# Start the program 
my $done = $log.start;
sleep 10;
# Tell the program to stop 
# Wait for the program to finish 
await $done;

Here is a small program that uses the "tail" program to print out the contents of the log named system.log for 10 seconds and then tells the program to stop with a QUIT signal.

Whereas Proc provides access to output using IO::Handles, Proc::Async provides access using asynchronous supplies (see Supply).

If you want to run a program and do some work while you wait for the original program to finish, the start routine returns a Promise, which is kept when the program quits.

Use the write method to pass data into the program.