Unix users and administrators will be familiar with the cron, unix’s built in job scheduler. It is a good way of running regular jobs eg backups, system monitoring programs or housekeeping scripts. The configuration of cron is quite particular and care is needed when setting up a new job. Your well tested script can behave differently when it is called from cron. Sometimes the differences won’t matter. But sometimes they do, and finding the cause can be tricky.
This brief article describes how many such problems can be tracked down simply by capturing the standard error output properly. In short, make sure your troublesome cron job is not quietly discarding the very information you need to fix it. Continue reading