First- I've already scoured this page and nothing has worked.

My script will create a file, this is how I know if it has run or not. /var/log/syslog isn't giving me any debugging information. Below is my crontab section, below what's already there by default:


# Check for minecraft server updates
* * * * * root minecraft_update > /tmp/cron.out

* * * * * root env > /tmp/env.out

Note: there is a blank line at the end of the crontab file. I specified the bash shell even though that is specified in my script. My script (minecraft_update) lives in the /usr/local/bin directory, and the only other commands it calls are grep, ls, and head, which are all in the /bin dir, which is already defined in the crontab PATH.

The /tmp/cron.out file is created, but empty. The /tmp/env.out file is created and confirms that the PATH includes both the /usr/local/bin and /bin dirs, and also confirms the SHELL=/bin/bash.

Addtl. perms info:

ll /etc/crontab
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 998 Jul  1 12:47 /etc/crontab

ll /usr/local/bin/minecraft_update
-rwxr--r-- 1 root root 1132 Jul  1 12:31 minecraft_update*

I'm so frustrated with this! Please bring an end to my * * * * * misery... [That's cron notation, not profanity btw. Gotta love Linux humor :)]

  • I'd start by redirecting standard error to the file as well (i.e. minecraft_update > /tmp/cron.out 2>&1) - that might give you some indication of what's failing – steeldriver Jul 1 '17 at 17:19
  • It's still empty... – Willman Jul 1 '17 at 17:23
  • Your problem seems to be with the minecraft_update script, not cron nor crontab. – user535733 Jul 1 '17 at 19:11
  • But I can run the script just fine and it runs as expected. – Willman Jul 1 '17 at 19:12
  • Are you editing /etc/crontab directly, or are you using sudo crontab -e? (Which uses a different file) – pizzapants184 Jul 1 '17 at 22:30

You don't need 'root' in the crontab listing, (unless you have a program root that you are using to run your script).

If ypu are editing your crontab with sudo crontab -e (/var/spool/cron/crontabs/root), then you do not need a username. If you are editing the system-wide crontab (/etc/crontab), then you do need a username listed.


sudo crontab -e


# Check for minecraft server updates
* * * * * minecraft_update > /tmp/cron.out

* * * * * env > /tmp/env.out

OR nano /etc/crontab


# Check for minecraft server updates
* * * * * root minecraft_update > /tmp/cron.out

* * * * * root env > /tmp/env.out


  • You do need a user field (root by default) in the system-wide /etc/crontab file (which is what the OP appears to be using) - please see the EXAMPLE SYSTEM CRON FILE section of man 5 crontab – steeldriver Jul 1 '17 at 22:00
  • @steeldriver Sorry, thought 'sudo crontab -e' edited that by default. – pizzapants184 Jul 1 '17 at 22:22
  • 1
    I was editing /etc/crontab directly as root. Now that you mention it, I did read somewhere that using crontab -e was better, I'll try that. So crontab -e does not edit /etc/crontab? What file does it manipulate then? – Willman Jul 1 '17 at 23:37
  • @Willman crontab -e edits a file in the directory /var/spool/cron/crontabs named after the user, so sudo crontab -e edits /var/spool/cron/crontabs/root. Note that each file is run with the permissions of its respective user. – pizzapants184 Jul 1 '17 at 23:42
  • Nevermind, this is working now, thanks! For some reason, the file that was supposed to be written every time my script runs wasn't being detected by my watch -n 0.1 command on the dir.... But I confirmed a different way that it was working. Weird... – Willman Jul 2 '17 at 18:25

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