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Os Module Vs. Sys Module In Python

Last Updated : 23 Feb, 2024
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Python provides a lot of libraries to interact with the development environment. If you need help using the OS and Sys Module in Python, you have landed in the right place. This article covers a detailed explanation of the OS and Sys Module including their comparison. By the end of this article, you will be able to easily decide which module suits your Python application development.

What is the OS Module?

OS stands for the Operating System module in Python that allows the developers to interact with the operating system. It provides functions to perform tasks like file and directory manipulation, process management, and more. For example, we can get information about the operating system, such as the current working directory and the user’s home directory. This makes it suitable for managing the system-level operations.

What is the Sys Module?

On the other hand, the System, abbreviated as the Sys Module helps us to interact with the Python runtime environment. It allows access to variables used or maintained by the Python interpreter. It also provides tools such as ‘sys.argv’ for command-line arguments, system-specific parameters, or exiting scripts. Also, developers can easily manipulate parameters related to the interpreter’s configuration, standard streams, and exit codes. Hence, we can easily manipulate the various parts of the Python Runtime environment.

Sys. Module Vs OS Module

Below are some of the examples by which we can understand the difference between sys module and os module in Python:

Accessing Details

The Sys Module can access the command line arguments and the os module can access the location of the script as shown in the below code.


# executed with ‘python arg1 arg2 ‘
import sys
import os
# Accessing command-line arguments using sys.argv
script_name = sys.argv[0]
arguments = sys.argv[1:]
# Getting the absolute path of the script using os.path
script_path = os.path.abspath(script_name)
print("Script Name:", script_name)
print("Arguments:", arguments)
print("Script Path:", script_path)




Returning Path

The OS Module gives the Python Path within the system and the Sys module gives the Python Path that is shown below:


import os
import sys
# Getting current working directory using os.getcwd()
current_directory = os.getcwd()
# Creating a new directory using os.mkdir()
new_directory1 = os.path.join(current_directory, 'new_folder')
# Checking Python path using sys.executable
python_path = sys.executable
print("Current Directory:", current_directory)
print("New Directory Path:", new_directory1)
print("Python Path:", python_path)




Environment Variables and Command Line Arguments

You can use OS Module to get the Environment Variables and Sys module to access the Command line arguments. This is illustrated as shown below.


import os
import sys
# Getting value of an environment variable using os.environ.get()
python_path = os.environ.get('PYTHONPATH', 'Not found')
# Setting a new environment variable using os.environ
os.environ['NEW_VAR'] = 'new_value'
# Accessing command-line arguments using sys.argv
script_name = sys.argv[0]
arguments = sys.argv[1:]
print("Python Path:", python_path)
print("Script Name:", script_name)
print("Arguments:", arguments)
print("New Environment Variable:", os.environ['NEW_VAR'])




Differences between OS and Sys Modules


OS Module

Sys Module

Primary Functionality

It Manages file and directory operations.

It helps us to access Python interpreter internals.

Cross-Platform Support

It supports the cross-platform compatibility.

It is specific to the system and provides only the system’s information.

File and Directory Ops

It offers extensive file manipulation operations

It is mainly focused on performing the system-level interactions.

Security Operation

We can modify the file permissions.

It cannot modify the file permissions.

Platform Independence

It provides platform-independent path handling.

It fetches the system information during the script execution.

Command-Line Handling

It is limited in command-line operations.

It mainly focuses on the command-line arguments for script adaptation.

Memory Management

It is not directly involved in memory-related tasks.

Here, it provides functions for memory usage analysis.

Customizing Imports

OS Module is focussed on file and directory operations without customization.

It enables customization of Python’s import behavior.

Interpreter Configuration

It does not focus on the file interpreter setup..

It facilitates configuration and interaction with the Python interpreter.


OS and Sys Module both are useful while developing applications that can interact with the system and the development environment. The OS is primarily made to help the developers interact with the system-level tasks and configuration. On the other hand, the Sys module allows us to interact with the interpreter, optimize memory, and customize the import behavior. This information is sufficient for you to select the right module specific to your development requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Sys module handle command-line arguments?

The Sys module provides access to command-line arguments through the sys.argv list. It allows developers to retrieve and manipulate arguments passed to a Python script during execution.

Can the OS module perform platform-independent operations?

While the OS module provides convenient abstractions for many system-level tasks, some operations may have platform-specific nuances. Developers should be cautious when relying on certain functionalities across different operating systems.

Is the Sys module only for accessing runtime details?

No, the Sys module goes beyond runtime details. It also facilitates interactions with the Python interpreter, allowing developers to manipulate aspects like exit codes, path configurations, and standard streams.

How can I handle system-specific functionalities with the OS module?

The OS module includes functions designed to handle system-specific tasks. You should refer to the module’s documentation for details on utilizing platform-specific features effectively.

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