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1 Introducing mcron

The mcron program represents a complete re-think of the cron concept originally found in the Berkeley and AT&T unices, and subsequently rationalized by Paul Vixie. The original idea was to have a daemon that wakes up every minute, scans a set of files under a special directory, and determines from those files if any shell commands should be executed in this minute.

The new idea is to read the required command instructions, work out which command needs to be executed next, and then sleep until the inferred time has arrived. On waking the commands are run, and the time of the next command is computed. Furthermore, the specifications are written in scheme, allowing at the same time simple command execution instructions and very much more flexible ones to be composed than the original Vixie format. This has several useful advantages over the original idea. (Changes to user crontabs are signalled directly to mcron by the crontab program; cron must still scan the /etc/crontab file once every minute, although use of this file is highly discouraged and this behaviour can be turned off).

A full discussion of the design and philosophy of mcron can be found in the white paper at