Bash Script Behaves Differently When Called From Cron

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

bc Rounding Errors

There must be a few people out there who still use bc as a desk calculator. bc is a simple application that comes as standard on most unix and linux systems. It’s nicer to use than a graphical calculator app: less fussy, no mouse needed and you can see what you have typed.

bc Gets it Wrong

A recent mix-up with financial calculations lead me to discover that – unbelievably – bc was getting its sums wrong. This post explains the problem. Continue reading