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August 03, 2005

TechTip: Crontab

Q: Help! I am trying to edit the cron file for sys and I used "crontab -e sys" and the system just gave back an error number and then hung.

A. Nope. Actually it didn't. What you are seeing is a bit of archaeological history:
# crontab -e sys

You are talking to ed - not the horse, the original editor - the one that came before vi. Simply type the letter 'q':
# crontab -e sys
The crontab file was not changed.

To use vi (or some other editor), you need to set the EDITOR environment variable (on older systems, you can set the VISUAL variable):
# EDITOR=/usr/bin/vi
# export EDITOR

Now, running crontab will get you into vi (or whatever you specified). Note that the same variable will also fix a number of other programs (like sudo) so you may want to add it to your .profile (or equivalent).

Posted by Ozguru at August 3, 2005 06:00 AM


I bow down to you - the man with two (or even three) brains. Was this post written in Strine or Intergalactic Standard?

Posted by: Cabarfeidh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 4, 2005 12:58 AM

Thanks for the complements. I think the post was primarily written in Unix. One of the lesser known geek languages. Unfortunately I don't think babblefish can correctly translate such gibberish into English :-(

Posted by: Ozguru at August 4, 2005 07:57 AM