cron [-f] [-l] [-L loglevel]
cron is started automatically from /etc/init.d on entering multi-user
-f Stay in foreground mode, don't daemonize.
-l Enable LSB compliant names for /etc/cron.d files. This setting,
however, does not affect the parsing of files under
/etc/cron.hourly, /etc/cron.daily, /etc/cron.weekly or
Tell cron what to log about jobs (errors are logged regardless
of this value) as the sum of the following values:
1 will log the start of all cron jobs
2 will log the end of all cron jobs
4 will log all failed jobs (exit status != 0)
8 will log the process number of all cron jobs
The default is to log the start of all jobs (1). Logging will
be disabled if levels is set to zero (0). A value of fifteen
(15) will select all options.
cron searches its spool area (/var/spool/cron/crontabs) for crontab
files (which are named after accounts in /etc/passwd); crontabs found
are loaded into memory. Note that crontabs in this directory should
not be accessed directly - the crontab command should be used to access
and update them.
cron also reads /etc/crontab, which is in a slightly different format
(see crontab(5)). In Debian, the content of /etc/crontab is predefined
to run programs under /etc/cron.hourly, /etc/cron.daily,
/etc/cron.weekly and /etc/cron.monthly. This configuration is specific
to Debian, see the note under DEBIAN SPECIFIC below. in order
Additionally, in Debian, cron reads the files in the /etc/cron.d direc-
tory. cron treats the files in /etc/cron.d as in the same way as the
/etc/crontab file (they follow the special format of that file, i.e.
they include the user field). However, they are independent of
/etc/crontab: they do not, for example, inherit environment variable
settings from it. This change is specific to Debian see the note under
DEBIAN SPECIFIC below.
Like /etc/crontab, the files in the /etc/cron.d directory are monitored
cron then wakes up every minute, examining all stored crontabs, check-
ing each command to see if it should be run in the current minute.
When executing commands, any output is mailed to the owner of the
crontab (or to the user named in the MAILTO environment variable in the
crontab, if such exists). The children copies of cron running these
processes have their name coerced to uppercase, as will be seen in the
syslog and ps output.
Additionally, cron checks each minute to see if its spool directory's
modtime (or the modtime on the /etc/crontab file) has changed, and if
it has, cron will then examine the modtime on all crontabs files and
reload those which have changed. Thus cron need not be restarted when-
ever a crontab file is modified. Note that the crontab(1) command
updates the modtime of the spool directory whenever it changes a
Special considerations exist when the clock is changed by less than 3
hours, for example at the beginning and end of daylight savings time.
If the time has moved forwards, those jobs which would have run in the
time that was skipped will be run soon after the change. Conversely,
if the time has moved backwards by less than 3 hours, those jobs that
fall into the repeated time will not be re-run.
Only jobs that run at a particular time (not specified as @hourly, nor
with '*' in the hour or minute specifier) are affected. Jobs which are
specified with wildcards are run based on the new time immediately.
Clock changes of more than 3 hours are considered to be corrections to
the clock, and the new time is used immediately.
cron logs its action to the syslog facility 'cron', and logging may be
controlled using the standard syslogd(8) facility.
If configured in /etc/default/cron in Debian systems, the cron daemon
localisation settings environment can be managed through the use of
/etc/environment or through the use of /etc/default/locale with values
from the latter overriding values from the former. These files are read
and they will be used to setup the LANG, LC_ALL, and LC_CTYPE environ-
ment variables. These variables are then used to set the charset of
mails, which defaults to 'C'.
This does NOT affect the environment of tasks running under cron. For
more information on how to modify the environment of tasks, consult
The daemon will use, if present, the definition from /etc/timezone for
The environment can be redefined in user's crontab definitions but cron
will only handle tasks in a single timezone.
-- SELinux support,
-- auditlog support,
-- DST and other time-related changes/fixes,
-- SGID crontab(1) instead of SUID root,
-- Debian-specific file locations and commands,
-- Debian-specific configuration (/etc/default/cron),
-- numerous other smaller features and fixes.
Support for /etc/cron.hourly, /etc/cron.daily, /etc/cron.weekly and
/etc/cron.monthly is provided in Debian through the default setting of
the /etc/crontab file (see the system-wide example in crontab(5)). The
default sytem-wide crontab contains four tasks: run every hour, every
day, every week and every month. Each of these tasks will execute run-
parts providing each one of the directories as an argument. These tasks
are disabled if anacron is installed (except for the hourly task) to
prevent conflicts between both daemons.
As described above, the files under these directories have to be pass
some sanity checks including the following: be executable, be owned by
root, not be writable by group or other and, if symlinks, point to
files owned by root. Additionally, the file names must conform to the
filename requirements of run-parts: they must be entirely made up of
letters, digits and can only contain the special signs underscores
('_') and hyphens ('-'). Any file that does not conform to these
requirements will not be executed by run-parts. For example, any file
containing dots will be ignored. This is done to prevent cron from
running any of the files that are left by the Debian package management
system when handling files in /etc/cron.d/ as configuration files (i.e.
files ending in .dpkg-dist, .dpkg-orig, and .dpkg-new).
This feature can be used by system administrators and packages to
include tasks that will be run at defined intervals. Files created by
packages in these directories should be named after the package that
Support for /etc/cron.d is included in the cron daemon itself, which
handles this location as the system-wide crontab spool. This directory
can contain any file defining tasks following the format used in
/etc/crontab, i.e. unlike the user cron spool, these files must provide
the username to run the task as in the task definition.
Files in this directory have to be owned by root, do not need to be
executable (they are configuration files, just like /etc/crontab) and
must conform to the same naming convention as used by run-parts(8):
they must consist solely of upper- and lower-case letters, digits,
underscores, and hyphens. This means that they cannot contain any dots.
/etc/default/cron which is read by the init.d script that launches the
cron daemon. This file determines whether cron will read the system's
environment variables and makes it possible to add additional options
to the cron program before it is executed, either to configure its log-
ging or to define how it will treat the files under /etc/cron.d.
crontab(1), crontab(5), run-parts(8)
Paul Vixie <firstname.lastname@example.org> is the author of cron and original creator of
this manual page. This page has also been modified for Debian by Steve
Greenland, Javier Fernandez-Sanguino and Christian Kastner.
4th Berkeley Distribution 19 April 2010 CRON(8)
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