SafeShell lets you execute shell commands and get the resulting output, but without the security problems of Ruby's backtick operator.


Install gem:

gem install safe_shell

Use gem:

require 'safe_shell'
SafeShell.execute("echo", "Hello, world!")

SafeShell sets the $? operator to the process status, in the same manner as the backtick operator.

# Send stdout and stderr to files:
SafeShell.execute("echo", "Hello, world!", :stdout => "output.txt", :stderr => "error.txt")

# Return true if the command exits with a zero status:
SafeShell.execute?("echo", "Hello, world!")

# Raise an exception if the command exits with a non-zero status:
SafeShell.execute!("echo", "Hello, world!")


If you use backticks to process a file supplied by a user, a carefully crafted filename could allow execution of an arbitrary command:

file = ";blah"
`echo #{file}`
sh: blah: command not found
=> "\n"

SafeShell solves this.

SafeShell.execute("echo", file)
=> ";blah\n"


Tested with Ruby 2.0.0 or newer, but it should be happy on pretty much any Ruby version. Maybe not so much on Windows.


bundle exec rake


  • Fork the project.
  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.
  • Add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.
  • Commit, do not mess with rakefile, version, or history. (if you want to have your own version, that is fine but bump version in a commit by itself I can ignore when I pull)
  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.


In use on at least one big site, so should be pretty solid. There's not much to it, so I'm not expecting there'll be many releases.


Copyright (c) 2010 - 2015 Envato, Ian Leitch, & Pete Yandell. See LICENSE for details.