[Techtalk] cron not running?

Rudy Zijlstra rudy at grumpydevil.homelinux.org
Sun Jan 11 23:15:17 UTC 2009

Hi Anne,

Op maandag 12-01-2009 om 00:57 uur [tijdzone +0200], schreef Anne
> Hi,
> setting my test server up, going well
> postfix to send the mail goes fine
> mpop to get the mail goes fine from the command line
> dovecot to allow others connected to pop their mail also goes fine
> I did not use fetchmail because the server is on the command line, and thus no fetchconf (I got cold feet at that stage), getmail not available on apt-get from ubuntu, but mpop was so installed that.
> mpop works fine from the command line. As it does not have a daemon, you are supposed to put a line into crontab which I have done. Problem ...
> I really don't think that cron is working although I think crond is loaded as can do etc/init.d/cron start/stop/reload  . My line in crontab:

On debian when doing a "ps aux" i find a proces "/usr/sbin/cron" which
is running, and crontab is acting as usual. On this system i have no
regular items (desktop), and cannot check on a server (those are

> 2 *  * * *  root  /usr/bin/mpop -q anotheranne
> #

My understanding is you have one go every hour, at 2 minutes passed the
hour. from "man 5 crontab":

Step values can be used in conjunction with ranges.  Following a range
with ‘‘/<number>’’ spec‐ifies skips of the number’s value through the
range.  For example, ‘‘0-23/2’’ can  be  used  in the  hours field to
specify command execution every other hour (the alternative in the V7
standard is ‘‘0,2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20,22’’).  Steps are also
permitted after an asterisk, so if you want to say ‘‘every two hours’’,
just use ‘‘*/2’’.

Thus every 2 minutes would be */2 in the minute field ;)

> even if the user is anotheranne, nothing happens, and I do have the newline after this last entry as needed.

One way to test cron, is to use the mailto proggy. This way you can mail
something from crontab and be certain you will get it (if cron is indeed



> there is nothing in /etc/cron.hourly which I would have expected as m/c on all day
> crontab has lines referencing anacron which is not installed that I can find (well, likely not installed on a server?)
> any suggestion as to what may be broken? (i really have spent hours today trying to sort this)
> My Debian bible says that cron does not work if not running 24/7 and that is why debian uses anacron, but I don't really understand this and after all I am calling for a 2 minute cycle on mpop so surely it should go?
> sysvconfig confirms cron ready to go as far as runlevels go.
> thanks
> Anne

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