Ubuntu Servers :: After Using Crontab With /etc/crontab / Giving Error "can't Find Command Root"?

Aug 26, 2010

I have a question about using crontab with /etc/crontab...

I had a cron job that I needed to run as root. At the time I thought that sticking it in /etc/crontab would be a good idea. However, I used the crontab command to edit /etc/crontab, which I guess is not standard procedure? Specifically, I configured /etc/crontab as my local user's crontab (i.e. sudo crontab /etc/crontab) then added my cron job as I would a local user crontab (i.e. sudo crontab -e).

Originally, my cron job looked like this:

30 * * * * root /my/batch/script &> /dev/null

After adding the new cron job I started seeing errors. Something to the effect of "can't find command root" or something similar. So I removed the 'root' user definition from the cron job and the job started running fine. However, because this is /etc/crontab, there are other system related cron jobs that have been defined to run under the root account (e.g. "17 * * * * root cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly" runs as root, etc.). So these pre-existing system cron jobs, which up until now have been running smoothly, are now generating "can't find command root" errors. But I think that the system cron jobs _are_ successfully being run someplace because logrotate seems to be working.

So what I _think_ is happening is that /etc/crontab is being run twice: once as the system crontab, and once as my sudoed local user's crontab. When I run crontab -l I see nothing, but when I run sudo crontab -l I can see the contents of /etc/crontab. I am reluctant to delete my sudoed local user's crontab, because then in the process I would be deleting the system crontab, and I do not know how I should restore the system crontab's contents. (I am still not sure as to the most appropriate way to edit the system crontab).

How can I get out of this mess? I want /etc/crontab to go back to the way it was before--running _once_ as the system crontab. As for my new cron job, I'm willing to reconfigure it anywhere so long as I am still able to run it as root. Any ideas? (I am using Ubuntu 8.04 Server LTE)

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