Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Why Won’t My Cron.hourly Job Run Automatically?

Ubuntu 10

A cron job is a Linux command used for scheduling tasks to be executed periodically. It’s a very useful tool that allows you to automate system maintenance or administration. However, sometimes you may find that your cron.hourly job isn’t running as expected. This can be due to several reasons such as invalid filenames, incorrect file permissions, or issues with the cron service itself.

In this article, we’ll explore these issues in detail and provide solutions to ensure your cron.hourly jobs run automatically.

Quick Answer

There are several possible reasons why your cron.hourly job may not be running automatically. It could be due to an invalid filename, incorrect file permissions, issues with the script content, line endings, or problems with the cron service itself. By checking these factors and troubleshooting accordingly, you should be able to resolve the issue and ensure your cron.hourly job runs as expected.

Valid Filename

The first thing to check is whether your script file name is valid. The run-parts mechanism, which cron uses to run scripts in directories like /etc/cron.hourly, only recognizes filenames that consist of upper and lower case letters, numbers, hyphens, and underscores. Additionally, the filename should not have any extensions.

To verify if your filename is valid, you can use the run-parts command with the --test option as follows:

run-parts --test /etc/cron.hourly

This command will list all the scripts that run-parts recognizes in the /etc/cron.hourly directory. If your script is listed, it means it has a valid filename.

File Permissions

Another common issue is incorrect file permissions. Your script needs to have executable permissions to be run by cron.

You can add executable permissions to your script using the chmod command:

chmod +x /etc/cron.hourly/myscript

In this command, +x adds executable permissions to the file, and /etc/cron.hourly/myscript is the path to your script.

Script Content

Your script should start with a shebang (#!/bin/bash) which tells the system that this script should be executed with the bash shell. If the shebang is missing or incorrect, cron won’t be able to execute your script.

Line Endings

If your script was created or edited on a Windows machine, it might have Windows-style line endings (\r\n). These can cause problems when the script is run on a Unix-like system like Linux, which expects Unix-style line endings (\n).

You can convert Windows-style line endings to Unix-style using the sed command:

sed -i -e 's/\r$//' /etc/cron.hourly/myscript

In this command, sed is a stream editor used for transforming text, -i tells sed to edit files in place, -e indicates the next argument is a script, and s/\r$// is the script that removes the Windows-style line endings.

Check Cron Service

If your script still isn’t running, you should check if the cron service is running. You can do this using the systemctl command:

systemctl status crond

If the cron service isn’t running, you can start it with:

systemctl start crond


By checking the filename, file permissions, script content, line endings, and cron service status, you should be able to troubleshoot why your cron.hourly job isn’t running automatically. Remember, automation is a key aspect of effective system administration, and cron is a powerful tool for this purpose. So, it’s essential to understand how to troubleshoot issues when they arise.

How do I check if my `cron.hourly` job is running?

You can check if your cron.hourly job is running by using the ls command to list the contents of the /var/spool/cron/crontabs directory. Look for a file with your username, and check if it contains a reference to your cron.hourly job.

How often does a `cron.hourly` job run?

As the name suggests, a cron.hourly job is scheduled to run every hour. It will run once every hour at the beginning of the hour.

Can I manually run a `cron.hourly` job?

Yes, you can manually run a cron.hourly job by executing the script directly. You can do this by running the following command: sudo /etc/cron.hourly/myscript, where /etc/cron.hourly/myscript is the path to your script.

How can I troubleshoot if my `cron.hourly` job is not running at all?

To troubleshoot if your cron.hourly job is not running at all, you can check the system log files for any error messages related to cron. You can view the log file by running the command sudo tail -f /var/log/syslog and look for any errors or warnings related to cron.

Can I have multiple `cron.hourly` jobs?

Yes, you can have multiple cron.hourly jobs. Each script in the /etc/cron.hourly directory will be executed once every hour, so you can have multiple scripts performing different tasks at different intervals within the hour.

How can I edit or modify a `cron.hourly` job?

To edit or modify a cron.hourly job, you can simply edit the script file located in the /etc/cron.hourly directory. Make the necessary changes to the script, save the file, and the modified job will be executed in the next hourly cycle.

Can I schedule a `cron.hourly` job to run at a specific minute within the hour?

No, the cron.hourly job is designed to run at the beginning of each hour, so you cannot schedule it to run at a specific minute within the hour. If you need to schedule a job at a specific minute, you should consider using the cron syntax for minute-based scheduling.

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