How to set a crontab to execute commands on a seconds time interval on GNU / Linux and FreeBSD

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Have you ever been in need to execute some commands scheduled via a crontab, every let’s say 5 seconds?, naturally this is not possible with crontab, however adding a small shell script to loop and execute a command or commands every 5 seconds and setting it up to execute once in a minute through crontab makes this possible.
Here is an example shell script that does execute commands every 5 seconds:

#!/bin/bash
command1_to_exec='/bin/ls';
command2_to_exec='/bin/pwd';
for i in $(echo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11); do
sleep 5;
$command1_to_exec; $command2_to_exec;
done

This script will issue a sleep every 5 seconds and execute the two commands defined as $command1_to_exec and $command2_to_exec

Copy paste the script to a file or fetch exec_every_5_secs_cmds.sh from here

The script can easily be modified to execute on any seconds interval delay, the record to put on cron to use with this script should look something like:

# echo '* * * * * /path/to/exec_every_5_secs_cmds.sh' | crontab -

Where of course /path/to/exec_every_5_secs_cmds.sh needs to be modified to a proper script name and path location.

Another way to do the on a number of seconds program / command schedule without using cron at all is setting up an endless loop to run/refresh via /etc/inittab with a number of predefined commands inside. An example endless loop script to run via inittab would look something like:

while [ 1 ]; do
/bin/ls
sleep 5;
done

To run the above sample never ending script using inittab, one needs to add to the end of inittab, some line like:

mine:234:respawn:/path/to/script_name.sh

A quick way to add the line from consone would be with echo:

echo 'mine:234:respawn:/path/to/script' >> /etc/inittab

Of course the proper paths, should be put in:

Then to load up the newly added inittab line, inittab needs to be reloaded with cmd:

# init q

I've also red, some other methods suggested to run programs on a periodic seconds basis using just cron, what I found in stackoverflow.com's  as a thread proposed as a solution is:

* * * * * /foo/bar/your_script
* * * * * sleep 15; /foo/bar/your_script
* * * * * sleep 30; /foo/bar/your_script
* * * * * sleep 45; /foo/bar/your_script

One guy, even suggested a shorted way with cron:

0/15 * * * * * /path/to/my/script

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One Response to “How to set a crontab to execute commands on a seconds time interval on GNU / Linux and FreeBSD”

  1. Run custom user script after reboot with a cronjob on Linux - ☩ Walking in Light with Christ - Faith, Computing, Diary ☩ Walking in Light with Christ – Faith, Computing, Diary says:
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    […] The scripts set in cron job that way will respawn right after the OS system had booted and there will be no need for them to wait the next hour to execute configured data synch. For more on how to run a tiny script respawn every second using a single cron job check out my previous article How to set a crontab to execute commands on a seconds time interval on GNU / Linux and FreeBSD. […]

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