Posts Tagged ‘daily’

Find when cron.daily cron.weekly and cron.monthly run on Redhat / CentOS / Debian Linux and systemd-timers

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020



The problem – Apache restart at random times

I've noticed today something that is occuring for quite some time but was out of my scope for quite long as I'm not directly involved in our Alert monitoring at my daily job as sys admin. Interestingly an Apache HTTPD webserver is triggering alarm twice a day for a short downtime that lasts for 9 seconds.

I've decided to investigate what is triggering WebServer restart in such random time and investigated on the system for any background running scripts as well as reviewed the system logs. As I couldn't find nothing there the only logical place to check was cron jobs.
The usual

crontab -u root -l

Had no configured cron jobbed scripts so I digged further to check whether there isn't cron jobs records for a script that is triggering the reload of Apache in /etc/crontab /var/spool/cron/root and /var/spool/cron/httpd.
Nothing was found there and hence as there was no anacron service running but /usr/sbin/crond the other expected place to look up for a trigger even was /etc/cron*


1. Configured default cron execution times, every day, every hour every month


# ls -ld /etc/cron.*
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 feb 27 10:54 /etc/cron.d/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 dec 27 10:55 /etc/cron.daily/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 dec  7 23:04 /etc/cron.hourly/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 dec  7 23:04 /etc/cron.monthly/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 dec  7 23:04 /etc/cron.weekly/


After a look up to each of above directories, finally I found the very expected logrorate shell script set to execute from /etc/cron.daily/logrotate and inside it I've found after the log files were set to be gzipped and moved to execute WebServer restart with:

systemctl reload httpd 


My first reaction was to ponder seriously why the script is invoking systemctl reload httpd instead of the good oldschool

apachectl -k graceful


But it seems on Redhat and CentOS since RHEL / CentOS version 6.X onwards systemctl reload httpd is supposed to be identical and a substitute for apachectl -k graceful.
Okay the craziness of innovation continued as obviously the reload was causing a Downtime to be visible in the Zabbix HTTPD port Monitoring graph …
Now as the problem was identified the other logical question poped up how to find out what is the exact timing scheduled to run the script in that unusual random times each time ??

2. Find out cron scripts timing Redhat / CentOS / Fedora / SLES


/etc/cron.{daily,monthly,weekly} placed scripts's execution method has changed over the years, causing a chaos just like many Linux standard things we know due to the inclusion of systemd and some other additional weird OS design changes. The result is the result explained above scripts are running at a strange unexpeted times … one thing that was intruduced was anacron – which is also executing commands periodically with a different preset frequency. However it is considered more thrustworhty by crond daemon, because anacron does not assume the machine is continuosly running and if the machine is down due to a shutdown or a failure (if it is a Virtual Machine) or simply a crond dies out, some cronjob necessery for overall set environment or application might not run, what anacron guarantees is even though that and even if crond is in unworking defunct state, the preset scheduled scripts will still be served.
anacron's default file location is in /etc/anacrontab.

A standard /etc/anacrontab looks like so:

[root@centos ~]:# cat /etc/anacrontab
# /etc/anacrontab: configuration file for anacron
# See anacron(8) and anacrontab(5) for details.
# the maximal random delay added to the base delay of the jobs
# the jobs will be started during the following hours only
#period in days   delay in minutes   job-identifier   command
1    5    cron.daily        nice run-parts /etc/cron.daily
7    25    cron.weekly        nice run-parts /etc/cron.weekly
@monthly 45    cron.monthly        nice run-parts /etc/cron.monthly


START_HOURS_RANGE : The START_HOURS_RANGE variable sets the time frame, when the job could started. 
The jobs will start during the 3-22 (3AM-10PM) hours only.

  • cron.daily will run at 3:05 (After Midnight) A.M. i.e. run once a day at 3:05AM.
  • cron.weekly will run at 3:25 AM i.e. run once a week at 3:25AM.
  • cron.monthly will run at 3:45 AM i.e. run once a month at 3:45AM.

If the RANDOM_DELAY env var. is set, a random value between 0 and RANDOM_DELAY minutes will be added to the start up delay of anacron served jobs. 
For instance RANDOM_DELAY equels 45 would therefore add, randomly, between 0 and 45 minutes to the user defined delay. 

Delay will be 5 minutes + RANDOM_DELAY for cron.daily for above cron.daily, cron.weekly, cron.monthly config records, i.e. 05:01 + 0-45 minutes

A full detailed explanation on automating system tasks on Redhat Enterprise Linux is worthy reading here.

!!! Note !!! that listed jobs will be running in queue. After one finish, then next will start.

3. SuSE Enterprise Linux cron jobs not running at desired times why?

in SuSE it is much more complicated to have a right timing for standard default cron jobs that comes preinstalled with a service 

In older SLES release /etc/crontab looked like so:



# run-parts
01 * * * * root run-parts /etc/cron.hourly
02 4 * * * root run-parts /etc/cron.daily
22 4 * * 0 root run-parts /etc/cron.weekly
42 4 1 * * root run-parts /etc/cron.monthly

As time of writting article it looks like:


# check scripts in cron.hourly, cron.daily, cron.weekly, and cron.monthly
-*/15 * * * *   root  test -x /usr/lib/cron/run-crons && /usr/lib/cron/run-crons >/dev/null 2>&1



This runs any scripts placed in /etc/cron.{hourly, daily, weekly, monthly} but it may not run them when you expect them to run. 
/usr/lib/cron/run-crons compares the current time to the /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.{time} file to determine if those jobs need to be run.

For hourly, it checks if the current time is greater than (or exactly) 60 minutes past the timestamp of the /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.hourly file.

For weekly, it checks if the current time is greater than (or exactly) 10080 minutes past the timestamp of the /var/spool/cron/lastrun/cron.weekly file.

Monthly uses a caclucation to check the time difference, but is the same type of check to see if it has been one month after the last run.

Daily has a couple variations available – By default it checks if it is more than or exactly 1440 minutes since lastrun.
If DAILY_TIME is set in the /etc/sysconfig/cron file (again a suse specific innovation), then that is the time (within 15minutes) when daily will run.

For systems that are powered off at DAILY_TIME, daily tasks will run at the DAILY_TIME, unless it has been more than x days, if it is, they run at the next running of run-crons. (default 7days, can set shorter time in /etc/sysconfig/cron.)
Because of these changes, the first time you place a job in one of the /etc/cron.{time} directories, it will run the next time run-crons runs, which is at every 15mins (xx:00, xx:15, xx:30, xx:45) and that time will be the lastrun, and become the normal schedule for future runs. Note that there is the potential that your schedules will begin drift by 15minute increments.

As you see this is very complicated stuff and since God is in the simplicity it is much better to just not use /etc/cron.* for whatever scripts and manually schedule each of the system cron jobs and custom scripts with cron at specific times.

4. Debian Linux time start schedule for cron.daily / cron.monthly / cron.weekly timing

As the last many years many of the servers I've managed were running Debian GNU / Linux, my first place to check was /etc/crontab which is the standard cronjobs file that is setting the { daily , monthly , weekly crons } 


 debian:~# ls -ld /etc/cron.*
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 фев 27 10:54 /etc/cron.d/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 фев 27 10:55 /etc/cron.daily/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 дек  7 23:04 /etc/cron.hourly/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 дек  7 23:04 /etc/cron.monthly/
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 дек  7 23:04 /etc/cron.weekly/


debian:~# cat /etc/crontab 
# /etc/crontab: system-wide crontab
# Unlike any other crontab you don't have to run the `crontab'
# command to install the new version when you edit this file
# and files in /etc/cron.d. These files also have username fields,
# that none of the other crontabs do.

PATH=/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin# Example of job definition:
# .—————- minute (0 – 59)
# |  .————- hour (0 – 23)
# |  |  .———- day of month (1 – 31)
# |  |  |  .——- month (1 – 12) OR jan,feb,mar,apr …
# |  |  |  |  .—- day of week (0 – 6) (Sunday=0 or 7) OR sun,mon,tue,wed,thu,fri,sat
# |  |  |  |  |
# *  *  *  *  * user-name command to be executed
17 *    * * *    root    cd / && run-parts –report /etc/cron.hourly
25 6    * * *    root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts –report /etc/cron.daily )
47 6    * * 7    root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts –report /etc/cron.weekly )
52 6    1 * *    root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts –report /etc/cron.monthly )

What above does is:

– Run cron.hourly once at every hour at 1:17 am
– Run cron.daily once at every day at 6:25 am.
– Run cron.weekly once at every day at 6:47 am.
– Run cron.monthly once at every day at 6:42 am.

As you can see if anacron is present on the system it is run via it otherwise it is run via run-parts binary command which is reading and executing one by one all scripts insude /etc/cron.hourly, /etc/cron.weekly , /etc/cron.mothly

anacron – few more words

Anacron is the canonical way to run at least the jobs from /etc/cron.{daily,weekly,monthly) after startup, even when their execution was missed because the system was not running at the given time. Anacron does not handle any cron jobs from /etc/cron.d, so any package that wants its /etc/cron.d cronjob being executed by anacron needs to take special measures.

If anacron is installed, regular processing of the /etc/cron.d{daily,weekly,monthly} is omitted by code in /etc/crontab but handled by anacron via /etc/anacrontab. Anacron's execution of these job lists has changed multiple times in the past:

debian:~# cat /etc/anacrontab 
# /etc/anacrontab: configuration file for anacron

# See anacron(8) and anacrontab(5) for details.


# These replace cron's entries
1    5    cron.daily    run-parts –report /etc/cron.daily
7    10    cron.weekly    run-parts –report /etc/cron.weekly
@monthly    15    cron.monthly    run-parts –report /etc/cron.monthly

In wheezy and earlier, anacron is executed via init script on startup and via /etc/cron.d at 07:30. This causes the jobs to be run in order, if scheduled, beginning at 07:35. If the system is rebooted between midnight and 07:35, the jobs run after five minutes of uptime.
In stretch, anacron is executed via a systemd timer every hour, including the night hours. This causes the jobs to be run in order, if scheduled, beween midnight and 01:00, which is a significant change to the previous behavior.
In buster, anacron is executed via a systemd timer every hour with the exception of midnight to 07:00 where anacron is not invoked. This brings back a bit of the old timing, with the jobs to be run in order, if scheduled, beween 07:00 and 08:00. Since anacron is also invoked once at system startup, a reboot between midnight and 08:00 also causes the jobs to be scheduled after five minutes of uptime.
anacron also didn't have an upstream release in nearly two decades and is also currently orphaned in Debian.

As of 2019-07 (right after buster's release) it is planned to have cron and anacron replaced by cronie.

cronie – Cronie was forked by Red Hat from ISC Cron 4.1 in 2007, is the default cron implementation in Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux at least since Version 6. cronie seems to have an acive upstream, but is currently missing some of the things that Debian has added to vixie cron over the years. With the finishing of cron's conversion to quilt (3.0), effort can begin to add the Debian extensions to Vixie cron to cronie.

Because cronie doesn't have all the Debian extensions yet, it is not yet suitable as a cron replacement, so it is not in Debian.

5. systemd-timers – The new crazy systemd stuff for script system job scheduling

Timers are systemd unit files with a suffix of .timer. systemd-timers was introduced with systemd so older Linux OS-es does not have it.
 Timers are like other unit configuration files and are loaded from the same paths but include a [Timer] section which defines when and how the timer activates. Timers are defined as one of two types:


  • Realtime timers (a.k.a. wallclock timers) activate on a calendar event, the same way that cronjobs do. The option OnCalendar= is used to define them.
  • Monotonic timers activate after a time span relative to a varying starting point. They stop if the computer is temporarily suspended or shut down. There are number of different monotonic timers but all have the form: OnTypeSec=. Common monotonic timers include OnBootSec and OnActiveSec.



    For each .timer file, a matching .service file exists (e.g. foo.timer and foo.service). The .timer file activates and controls the .service file. The .service does not require an [Install] section as it is the timer units that are enabled. If necessary, it is possible to control a differently-named unit using the Unit= option in the timer’s [Timer] section.

    systemd-timers is a complex stuff and I'll not get into much details but the idea was to give awareness of its existence for more info check its manual man systemd.timer

Its most basic use is to list all configured systemd.timers, below is from my home Debian laptop

debian:~# systemctl list-timers –all
NEXT                         LEFT         LAST                         PASSED       UNIT                         ACTIVATES
Tue 2020-03-24 23:33:58 EET  18s left     Tue 2020-03-24 23:31:28 EET  2min 11s ago laptop-mode.timer            lmt-poll.service
Tue 2020-03-24 23:39:00 EET  5min left    Tue 2020-03-24 23:09:01 EET  24min ago    phpsessionclean.timer        phpsessionclean.service
Wed 2020-03-25 00:00:00 EET  26min left   Tue 2020-03-24 00:00:01 EET  23h ago      logrotate.timer              logrotate.service
Wed 2020-03-25 00:00:00 EET  26min left   Tue 2020-03-24 00:00:01 EET  23h ago      man-db.timer                 man-db.service
Wed 2020-03-25 02:38:42 EET  3h 5min left Tue 2020-03-24 13:02:01 EET  10h ago      apt-daily.timer              apt-daily.service
Wed 2020-03-25 06:13:02 EET  6h left      Tue 2020-03-24 08:48:20 EET  14h ago      apt-daily-upgrade.timer      apt-daily-upgrade.service
Wed 2020-03-25 07:31:57 EET  7h left      Tue 2020-03-24 23:30:28 EET  3min 11s ago anacron.timer                anacron.service
Wed 2020-03-25 17:56:01 EET  18h left     Tue 2020-03-24 17:56:01 EET  5h 37min ago systemd-tmpfiles-clean.timer systemd-tmpfiles-clean.service


8 timers listed.

N ! B! If a timer gets out of sync, it may help to delete its stamp-* file in /var/lib/systemd/timers (or ~/.local/share/systemd/ in case of user timers). These are zero length files which mark the last time each timer was run. If deleted, they will be reconstructed on the next start of their timer.


In this article, I've shortly explain logic behind debugging weird restart events etc. of Linux configured services such as Apache due to configured scripts set to run with a predefined scheduled job timing. I shortly explained on how to figure out why the preset default install configured cron jobs such as logrorate – the service that is doing system logs archiving and nulling run at a certain time. I shortly explained the mechanism behind cron.{daily, monthy, weekly} and its execution via anacron – runner program similar to crond that never misses to run a scheduled job even if a system downtime occurs due to a crashed Docker container etc. run-parts command's use was shortly explained. A short look at systemd.timers was made which is now essential part of almost every new Linux release and often used by system scripts for scheduling time based maintainance tasks.

Putty load as default session another session – Save other Putty session configuration to default howto

Thursday, November 29th, 2018


Recently I had to use PuTTY which I haven't used for years to open a number of SSH Pernanent Tunnels necessery for my daily work as a SAP Consultant.

I've saved them under a certain new profile and saved the set SSH Tunnel configuration not in the default Session but in separate named one, therefore had to press Load button every time after clicking over my Putty shortcut icon. 

That was annoying and took few seconds out of my life every next morning for about a week, so finally I found osme time to google it and it seemed it is pretty easy to have any Putty sessoin loaded you like.

Here is how:

1. Create a new Putty Shortcut



Click over Putty icon while holding CTRL + SHIFT (Control SHIFT keys simultaneously ) and move the mouse somewhere on the desktop to create the shortcut.

2. Right click on Putty Shortcut




"C:\Program Files\PuTTY\putty.exe" -load "your_saved_session" "username@your_server_address" -pw "your_password"

fill out "target" field of shortcut using above code (alter to your own properties).
click Apply button.

If you need to pass a user and password from Shortcut itself (which is a bad practice for security but sometimes useful, for not so important Tunnels – for example a tunnel to an Open Proxy), do it by typing in the target field like so:

"C:\Program Files\PuTTY\putty.exe" -load "your_saved_session" "username@your_server_address" -pw "your_password"


And Hooray !!! After that when you click on PuTTy shortcut it loads your session automatically using given username and password.

Must have software on freshly installed windows – Essential Software after fresh Windows install

Friday, March 18th, 2016


If you're into IT industry even if you don't like installing frequently Windows or you're completely Linux / BSD user, you will certainly have a lot of friends which will want help from you to re-install or fix their Windows 7 / 8 / 10 OS. At least this is the case with me every year, I'm kinda of obliged to install fresh windowses on new bought friends or relatives notebooks / desktop PCs.

Of course according to for whom the new Windows OS installed the preferrences of necessery software varies, however more or less there is sort of standard list of Windows Software which is used daily by most of Avarage Computer user, such as:

I tend to install on New Windows installs and thus I have more or less systematized the process.

I try to usually stick to free software where possible for each of the above categories as a Free Software enthusiast and luckily nowadays there is a lot of non-priprietary or at least free as in beer software available out there.

For Windows sysadmins or College and other public institutions networks including multiple of Windows Computers which are not inside a domain and also for people in computer repair shops where daily dozens of windows pre-installs or a set of software Automatic updates are  necessery make sure to take a look at Ninite


As official website introduces Ninite:

Ninite – Install and Update All Your Programs at Once

Of course as Ninite is used by organizations as NASA, Harvard Medical School etc. it is likely the tool might reports your installed list of Windows software and various other Win PC statistical data to Ninite developers and most likely NSA, but this probably doesn't much matter as this is probably by the moment you choose to have installed a Windows OS on your PC.


For Windows System Administrators managing small and middle sized network PCs that are not inside a Domain Controller, Ninite could definitely save hours and at cases even days of boring install and maintainance work. HP Enterprise or HP Inc. Employees or ex-employees would definitely love Ninite, because what Ninite does is pretty much like the well known HP Internal Tool PC COE.

Ninite could also prepare an installer containing multiple applications based on the choice on Ninite's website, so that's also a great thing especially if you need to deploy a different type of Users PCs (Scientific / Gamers / Working etc.)

Perhaps there are also other useful things to install on a new fresh Windows installations, if you're using something I'm missing let me know in comments.

The daily drink of Russian System Administrator – The sysadmin milk :)

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Zolton - The system administrator beer, sysadmin common drink, what is the milk food of the system administartor

For my dear readers who don’t speak Slavonic. The sticker on the bottle says in Russian. Adminskoe – A fictive Russian word for The “Administrtor’s drink”.