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I'm trying cron in a Ubuntu VPS with a minimal install, so I had to run apt-get install cron. However, say I run crontab -e and add (as root) the following line:

* * * * * date >> /root/datelog

I get the success notification:

crontab: installing new crontab

but /root/datelog is never created. If I try start cron I get:

start: Job is already running: cron

On the other hand, ps doesn't yield anything:

# ps -ef|grep cron
root      3087 10498  0 Mar17 pts/24   00:00:00 grep --color=auto cron
root     29081  7863  0 Mar13 pts/8    00:00:00 man crontab

Any thoughts? Thanks!

Edit: Following ImaginaryRobots' suggestion, I have modified my crontab as follows... to no avail.

* * * * * date >> /root/datelog
* * * * * date >> /tmp/datelog
* * * * * /bin/date >> /root/bindatelog
* * * * * /bin/date >> /tmp/bindatelog

I.e., no such files appear either in /root or in /tmp.

Edit 2: Maybe I should mention that Ubuntu 12.04 (or at least this VPS) is giving me what I consider to be a well-known bug upon apt-get upgrade:

mount: permission denied
dpkg: error processing initscripts (--configure):
 subprocess installed post-installation script returned error exit status 1
Errors were encountered while processing:
E: Sub-process /usr/bin/dpkg returned an error code (1)

Packages install apparently with no problems. But this may be affecting the behavior of the system after all...

share|improve this question
Are you installing that cron as root? It may be a permission issue with the file you are trying to create. – LnxSlck Aug 16 '12 at 16:55
Yes, I'm trying everything as root. (Have a bad tendency in that sense...) – sadpluto Aug 16 '12 at 17:13
can you paste the output of the following? pgrep 'cron' – ImaginaryRobots Aug 16 '12 at 19:38
There is nothing to paste, unfortunately: the command does not grep anything... Kindly refer to my second edit; maybe it has some bearing on all of this. – sadpluto Aug 16 '12 at 20:42
Reinstall cron. – user535733 Jan 18 '14 at 2:59

It's good practice to list the full path for anything being called from a cron job, since the environment variables are not always the same as they are for your user. Additionally, since you are trying to debug things, try writing to the /tmp/ directory instead. Try the following line:

* * * * * /bin/date >> /tmp/datelog
share|improve this answer
Thanks for the suggestion (can't upvote yet...). However, this doesn't do it for me. It's really puzzling, since I recall something like this working under Debian. Please refer to my edit. – sadpluto Aug 16 '12 at 18:05

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