Key Discovery Made Simple

gnupg at gnupg at
Thu Sep 1 01:30:42 CEST 2016

Peter Lebbing wrote:

> On 31/08/16 01:47, gnupg at wrote:
> > In the cronjob, "*/4" is invalid on
> > systemd systems (or at least Debian8)
> In Debian 8, the default cron daemon seems to come from the package 'cron'. I
> don't think you get the 'systemd-cron' package by default: you need to
> explicitly install it, and uninstall the 'Prio: important' package 'cron'.
> Either way, I was unable to reproduce this. I installed systemd-cron, and it
> accepted my "*/4" happily (and did indeed run the command every four minutes).
> Though I no longer was able to edit my crontab as a regular user, I needed root
> to do it with "crontab -u peter".
> Do you have a Debian bug reference for this? I don't see it. The snippet Werner
> quoted from the man page is also in the man page from 'systemd-cron', by the way.
> I get the feeling systemd-cron is for supporting "legacy" stuff, and people who
> go all-out systemd will use systemd facilities such as timers to implement stuff
> "legacy people" ;-) do with crontabs.
> Cheers,
> Peter.

That's good to hear. It must have been fixed (somehow).
When upgrading to Debian8, in November last year, I had read
which says, in section 5.17 Stricter validation of cron files in crontab:

  The crontab program is now more strict and may refuse to save a changed
  cron file if it is invalid. If you experience issues with crontab -e,
  please review your crontab for existing mistakes.

I thought nothing of it until I noticed that my log files hadn't rotated
for a while and tracked it down to cron ignoring /etc/crontab (and therefore
everything in /etc/cron.{daily,weekly,monthly}) because there was a */5 in
/etc/crontab. systemctl status cron showed a syntax error log message about it.

When I changed it to 0-55/5 it all started working again. And I have the cron
package, not systemd-cron so maybe it was just a debian problem.
I've just checked again and */5 definitely is working now. Yay.

Thanks for investigating this.


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