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I would first assure that in the Lightroom case as well, the script is executing up to the sys.exit statement as well - I suspect it is not (but don't really know...).
I have called python scripts from plugins both successfully and unsuccessfully, although I can't be certain I've checked the actual return code from the sys.exit command.
Consider trying an ultra-short script which writes to a file and exists with a code - make sure you can read the file in your plugin before assessing the return code.
If still a problem, report as bug on Adobe feedback site of course:
Thanks for the suggestion, Rob. I tried this:
exitStatus = LrTasks.execute('python -c "import sys;sys.exit(0)"')
and got a 0 back.
It turns out that I needed to specify the full path to the Python interpreter. I'm using a modified version in /usr/local and I think that just using OSX used its own version instead. Once I specified the full path, all is well. Thanks again!
Once you (if you) compile the python script, this problem (needing path to interpreter) will go away.