Schedule reoccurring jobs using CRONTAB in Linux

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Creating a crontab job

The crontab command with the -e (edit) option can be used to edit the cron table. Each user has their own cron table. Editing the cron table as root will edit root's cron table. 

[root@server1 ~]# crontab -e

 

Editing the cron table as John.Doe will edit John's cron table.

[JohnDoe@server1 ~]# crontab -e

 

If a non-root user has permission to use sudo, using sudo will run the script as root.

[JohnDoe@server1 ~]# sudo crontab -e

 


Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Reboot

The @ symbol can be used to run a command or script once every hour, once every day, once every week, once every month, or when the server is restarted.

@hourly  bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh
@daily   bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh
@weekly  bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh
@monthly bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh
@reboot  bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh

 

The sleep option can be used to wait a while before running a script after reboot. In this example, Example.sh is run 1 minute after reboot.

@reboot sleep 60 && bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh

 


Specific date time

You can specify an exact date and time to run a command or script. The syntax of the lines in the cron table is: <minute> <hour> <day of the month> <month> <day of the week> <command or script to execute>. For example, to run Example.sh every day at 1:00 am:

0 1 * * * bash /home/JohnDoe/scripts/Example.sh

 

Or, to remove every file in the /tmp directory every day at 1:00 am.

0 1 * * * /bin/rm /tmp/*

 

The first 5 fields of crontab are:

  • minute (0-59)
  • hour (0-23)
  • day of the month (1-31)
  • month (1-12)
  • day of the week (0-7)
    • 0 = Sunday
    • 1 = Monday
    • 2 = Tuesday
    • 3 = Wednesday
    • 4 = Thursday
    • 5 = Friday
    • 6 = Saturday
    • 7 = Sunday

 


Ranges

Each field can accept a range. For example, to run Example.sh at 1:00 am, Monday through Friday:

0 1 * * 1-5 bash /etc/cron.daily/Example.sh

 


Comma separated lists

Fields can also accept a comma separated list. For example, to run Example.sh at 1:00 am on Saturday and Sunday:

0 1 * * 6,7 bash /etc/cron.daily/Example.sh

 


Once every minute

All astericks can be used to run a cron job once every minute.

* * * * * bash /etc/cron.daily/Example.sh

 


Viewing the cron table

The crontab -l (list) command can be used to view the entries in crontab.

~]# crontab -l
0 1 * * * bash /etc/cron.daily/Example.sh

 

Likewise, the /var/spool/cron/crontab/username file can be viewed to view each users cron table.

~]# cat /var/spool/cron/crontab/root
0 1 * * * bash /etc/cron.daily/Example.sh

 


Removing cron tables

The crontab -r (remove) command can be used to remove a users entire cron table. For example, to remove user1 cron table:

~]# crontab -r

 


Cron log

The cron log is typically located at /var/log/cron.

~]# tail /var/log/cron


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