Debugging Anacron

I like to automate things and anacron/cron are some of my go-to tools for getting the job done.

But, recently I was having issues with anacron and couldn’t for the life of me figure out why one of my daily tasks wasn’t running. I had followed all the basic steps, such as making sure the executable was only alphanumeric and didn’t contain any extension (e.g., myscript = good, = bad), but my task was still not running. When I ran run-parts --test /etc/cron.daily, my task showed up as one of the listed tasks. When I repeat the same command without the --test flag, my task works perfectly.

So what was wrong?

Well, I had completely forgotten that anacron runs as root, not as my user. One of the commands called within my task was installed as a locally for my user, not globally. When I had performed the run-parts tests, I was also running as my user, which is why everything appeared to be working.

The solution was to simply have the full path to the command (i.e., /home/nicholas/.local/bin/my-command) in the task instead of just calling the command directly (i.e., my-command)

Nicholas Nadeau, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Nicholas Nadeau, Ph.D., P.Eng.
Project Director

Nicholas Nadeau is the project director at Halodi Robotics, leading their mission of bringing safe and capable humanoid robots to everyone.