Saturday, November 14, 2009

Meet my personal Linux butler, Cron

I'm a busy man (who isn't?), so I find it important to be able to automate as many tasks as possible. That's why I have a personal Linux butler, Cron. Cron is the unix scheduler, and it has saved me a bunch of time by taking care of my backups, checking for updates, podcast aggregation, and file synching for me.

There are a lot of great tutorials on how to use Cron out there; I learned on Chess Griffin's fantastic but now-defunct Linux Reality podcast (which I highly recommend if you're just starting with Linux).

Cron offers a lot of choices as to when jobs are run. You can have it run a job every minute, every third hour, at 4:15 in the morning on the second Saturday of the month. And since the Linux command line is so powerful, almost any task can be scripted, which makes Cron a viable option for almost any repetative task.

So any time you run up against some task that you find boring but feel the need to do every so often so that you don't fall behind, consider asking your personal Linux butler to take care of it for you.

Getting Cron to provide you with feedback, such as when updates are available, is another matter that I will discuss later...

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