R. David Murray added the comment:

Agree with the rejection.  os.system is intended to be a minimal wrapper around 
the system call, as are most things in the os module, and as such mirroring the 
behavior of the system call (by returning -1) is less surprising than raising 
an exception, even though the normal Python pattern would otherwise be to raise 
an exception.  Given that, and given that this is an API of long standing, and 
given that Popen is the real Python interface to this functionality, I agree 
that this should not be changed.

nosy: +r.david.murray
resolution:  -> rejected
stage:  -> committed/rejected
status: open -> closed

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