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I understood that I can create a service that would run and perform certain tasks in the background. But I actually only need to execute a task that needs to be done every 5 minutes. It needs not to run in between.

Now I was thinking that it may be a better idea to have a crontab entry that runs the (python) download script every 5 minutes. I am new to Linux and may have an incorrect understanding of what cron is for and what good practices are, but to me it seems as if this is a much more stable way because if the script would halt for any reason it will just be re-run.

What would be the recommended approach in that case? A (well-behaved) daemon that waits 5 minutes, or a cron that runs a script that just stops when done.

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daemons are for things that need an instant responce when something happens (like a command or a request etc). If you need something every 5 minutes .... cron! – Rinzwind Nov 25 '11 at 19:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Cron is the answer for this problem no doubt. The daemon would be needed if you have something that requires sub-minute wake up times or is completely event driven. If you have something that needs to run every 5 minutes you should schedule it with Cron and avoid all the daemon complexities. One thing that I would suggest looking into would to have a lock that will prevent the scripts from running more then one instance at a time.

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Both you and Rinzwind made me so happy with that answer! I had to built the same application for Android before. So much less reliable and endlessly more complex to achieve the same thing. (Probably the result of how much I like Java not) – Ruud Nov 25 '11 at 21:13

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