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Two Open Source Software Alternatives to Cron

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Software

A few weeks ago, we looked at using Corntab to make it easier to create entries for cron. What if you want to avoid cron altogether? You can, thanks to several cron alternatives.

Hcron

One alternative is hcron, a GPLv2 alternative to cron. Written by John Marshall, hcron has several advantages over cron. First, hcron's event definitions are much easier to read and are more expressive.

But hcron also addresses a few problems cron didn't anticipate, leaving aside its arcane syntax. When you run a cron job, you must kludge together something in the job itself or in the command you pass to cron to send an email when a job is completed. The hcron utility is expressly designed to allow for an email when the job is run.

The real kicker is remote execution. When cron was conceived, the computing environment was much less complicated -- and less networked. Today, it's hard to imagine any professional IT worker not having to manage remote machines.

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