10

I get the following error in my syslog:

Oct 17 13:14:03 tracker cron[873]: (*system*) ERROR (Syntax error, this crontab file will be ignored)
Oct 17 13:14:03 tracker cron[873]: Error: bad minute; while reading /etc/crontab

I don't see any bad minutes though! My crontab file is:

# /etc/crontab: system-wide crontab
# Unlike any other crontab you don't have to run the `crontab'
# command to install the new version when you edit this file
# and files in /etc/cron.d. These files also have username fields,
# that none of the other crontabs do.

SHELL=/bin/sh
PATH=/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin

# m h dom mon dow user  command
17 *    * * *   root    cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.hourly
25 18   * * *   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.daily )
47 18   * * 7   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.weekly )
52 18   1 * *   root    test -x /usr/sbin/anacron || ( cd / && run-parts --report /etc/cron.monthly )
#
1
  • 2
    Which operating system and version? Older Unix systems might not support the syntax for setting environment variables. – RedGrittyBrick Oct 17 '11 at 15:09
11

Use cat -v /etc/crontab to check for unintended control characters.

1

Cron tab requires at least the first and last lines of the file not to be actual cron instructions. You can put comments instead - such as those below in a file:

# START CRON JOB LIST
* * * * * /path/to/script/script1.sh
0 3 * * 0 /path/to/script/script2.sh
5 0 * * 1 /path/to/script/script3.sh
# END CRON JOB LIST

Install it like so

sudo crontab -u user /path/to/cron/file

This should work for you.

1

I have same error on Ubuntu 16.04. Problem have with empty assignment to MAILTO

MAILTO=

The problem I found with the help of chkcrontab

1

I have faced a similar issue with this error:

crontab: installing new crontab
"/tmp/crontab.MswKCq":0: bad minute
errors in crontab file, can't install.
Do you want to retry the same edit? n
crontab: edits left in /tmp/crontab.MswKCq

Googled all round and found that this was the error due to the no space in log folder for cron i.e in /var. Make sure to run df -h /var/ and see if there is enough space there.

2
  • Seriously?  A problem with disk free space can cause an error message that says that there’s a syntax error in an existing, static input file?  Can you provide any evidence (e.g., a reference) that other people have observed this bug? – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' May 25 '20 at 21:23
  • yes, the bad minute error can occur while updating the crontab due to the disk space. I have updated the post with the details. – harshi gupta May 27 '20 at 14:04
0

For anyone having issues on a Mac you can check your crontab for non-printing characters by typing

crontab -l | cat -e

or

sudo crontab -l | cat -e

if you have a root crontab.

2
  • The question doesn't mention a Mac. – RalfFriedl Jun 25 '19 at 20:30
  • 4
    Indeed it does not, but the question doesn't specifically indicate linux either. I don't see why you wouldn't want to cover how to do this on as many operating systems as possible. – Josh Correia Jun 25 '19 at 20:36

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