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cron is a linux utility that allows tasks to be automatically run in the background at regular intervals by the cron daemon.

We can execute crontab if the user name appears in the file /usr/lib/cron/cron.allow. If that file does not exist, we can use crontab if the user name does not appear in the file /usr/lib/cron/cron.deny.
If only cron.deny exists and is empty, all users can use crontab. If neither file exists, only the root user can use crontab. The allow/deny files consist of one user name per line.

Crontab Commands
export EDITOR=vi ;to specify a editor to open crontab file.

crontab -e     Edit  crontab file, or create one if it doesn’t already exist.
crontab -l      Display your crontab file.
crontab -r      Remove your crontab file.
crontab -v      Display the last time you edited your crontab file.

A crontab file has five fields for specifying day , date and time  followed by the command to be run at that interval.

*     *   *   *    *  command to be executed
–     –    –    –    –
|     |     |     |     |
|     |     |     |     +—– day of week (0 – 6) (Sunday=0)
|     |     |     +——- month (1 – 12)
|     |     +——— day of month (1 – 31)
|     +———– hour (0 – 23)
+————- min (0 – 59)

* in the value field above means all legal values as in braces for that column.
The value column can have a * or a list of elements separated by commas. An element is either a number in the ranges shown above or two numbers in the range separated by a hyphen (meaning an inclusive range)


A line in crontab file like below  removes the tmp files from /home/someuser/tmp each day at 6:30 PM.

30     18     *     *     *         rm /home/someuser/tmp/*

Disable Email

By default cron jobs sends a email to the user account executing the cronjob. If this is not needed put the following command At the end of the cron job line .

>/dev/null 2>&1

Generate log file

To collect the cron execution execution log in a file :

30 18  *    *   *    rm /home/someuser/tmp/* > /home/someuser/cronlogs/clean_tmp_dir.log

Another way to run a script as cron.

In the /etc directory you will probably find some sub directories called
‘cron.hourly’, ‘cron.daily’, ‘cron.weekly’ and ‘cron.monthly’. If you place
a script into one of those directories it will be run either hourly, daily,
weekly or monthly, depending on the name of the directory.

More Examples

01 * * * * root echo “This command is run at one min past every hour”
17 8 * * * root echo “This command is run daily at 8:17 am”
17 20 * * * root echo “This command is run daily at 8:17 pm”
00 4 * * 0 root echo “This command is run at 4 am every Sunday”
* 4 * * Sun root echo “So is this”
42 4 1 * * root echo “This command is run 4:42 am every 1st of the month”
01 * 19 07 * root echo “This command is run hourly on the 19th of July”

Under day of week  0 and 7 are both Sunday.

If both the day of month and day of week are specified, the command will be executed when
either of the events happen.

* 12 16 * Mon root cmd
Will run cmd at midday every Monday and every 16th, and will produce the
same result as both of these entries put together would:

* 12 16 * * root cmd
* 12 * * Mon root cmd

Vixie Cron also accepts lists in the fields. Lists can be in the form, 1,2,3
(meaning 1 and 2 and 3) or 1-3 (also meaning 1 and 2 and 3).
59 11 * * 1,2,3,4,5 root
Will run at 11:59 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,
as will:
59 11 * * 1-5 root

Cron also supports ‘step’ values.
A value of */2 in the dom field would mean the command runs every two days
and likewise, */5 in the hours field would mean the command runs every
5 hours.
* 12 10-16/2 * * root
is the same as:
* 12 10,12,14,16 * * root

*/15 9-17 * * * root connection.test
Will run connection.test every 15 mins between the hours or 9am and 5pm

Lists can also be combined with each other, or with steps:
* 12 1-15,17,20-25 * * root cmd
Will run cmd every midday between the 1st and the 15th as well as the 20th
and 25th (inclusive) and also on the 17th of every month.
* 12 10-16/2 * * root
is the same as:
* 12 10,12,14,16 * * root

When using the names of weekdays or months, it isn’t case sensitive, but only
the first three letters should be used, e.g. Mon, sun or Mar, jul.

Comments are allowed in crontabs, but they must be preceded with a ‘#’, and
must be on a line by them self.

Multiuser cron

Each user can have their own crontab
file, which can be created/edited/removed by the command crontab. This
command creates an individual crontab file and although this is a text file,
as the /etc/crontab is, it shouldn’t be edited directly. The crontab file is
often stored in /var/spool/cron/crontabs/<user> (Unix/Slackware/*BSD),
/var/spool/cron/<user> (RedHat) or /var/cron/tabs/<user> (SuSE),

Installing a cron file.
cog@pingu $ crontab <cron new file >

to replace your existing crontab with the one in <cron new file >

Written by praji

January 8, 2008 at 8:28 am

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