I would like to run the simple shell command echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq at each boot, to enable the sysrq keys. When in boot should this be done, and where should I put a script to do it?

  • All Linux distributions already sets the time. Maybe the battery to your RTC on the motherboard is low? Sep 10, 2012 at 6:35
  • @JoachimPileborg actually there is no RTC on my motherboard :) It's a embedded system board without RTC.
    – Peter
    Sep 10, 2012 at 6:43
  • Also superuser.com/questions/183921/…
    – davidgo
    Dec 8, 2013 at 7:34
  • 2
    I beg to differ, @davidgo. The references you are quoting are a tad obsolete: while crontab does work, /etc/rc.local does not on systemd distros like Arch Linux. By referring to them, we might be sending Demetri on a wild goose chase. Some updating, at times, needs to be done. Dec 8, 2013 at 7:41

3 Answers 3


Depends on distros.

If you are on Debian-derived distros, there are at least two proper places, /etc/rc.local and crontab. You may invoke crontab as root,

   crontab -e

and then insert this line

   @reboot /home/my_name/bin/my_command

where my_command is an executable file (chmod 755 my_command).

Alternatively, you may place a line like this


in /etc/rc.local, and this will be executed last. In any case, pls do remember you are using root environment, not yours. Also for this reason, it is best to use absolute paths.

If you are on a systemd distro (Arch Linux, Fedora 19,...) the first option (crontab) is still valid, while the second one (/etc/rc.local) does not exist any longer. In this case, you should learn how to start a service to be run by systemctl, but this may be more than you bargained for with your simple question.

  • 1
    Can you confirm this for Fedora ? My searching tells me that rc.local will still run if it exists and is executable, but is not set up by default. I perceived troubling ramifications if rc.local does not run ! (I could only find references for this for Fedora 18 - forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?t=291889)
    – davidgo
    Dec 8, 2013 at 7:43
  • You are right, in Fedora 19 you might still have it, if you really want it. But it is no longer packaged, docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/Fedora/16/html/Release_Notes/… bullet 3.2.4. Also, it does not exist in Arch Linux altogether, so I thought it safe to include a warning about that. Dec 8, 2013 at 7:49
  • 2
    maybe this is an unknown alias for me but @boot does not exist, just @reboot debianhelp.co.uk/crontab.htm Sep 14, 2014 at 0:00
  • This has never ever worked for me with any Debian distro Jan 20, 2021 at 2:12

If your system is running a version of cron that supports it (specifically Vixie cron), you can use @reboot in a cron job.

This is one of 8 special strings that it supports.

Quoting the crontab(5) man page (from my Ubuntu 12.04 system):

Instead of the first five fields, one of eight special strings may appear:

string         meaning
------         -------
@reboot        Run once, at startup.
@yearly        Run once a year, "0 0 1 1 *".
@annually      (same as @yearly)
@monthly       Run once a month, "0 0 1 * *".
@weekly        Run once a week, "0 0 * * 0".
@daily         Run once a day, "0 0 * * *".
@midnight      (same as @daily)
@hourly        Run once an hour, "0 * * * *".

Please note that startup, as far as @reboot is concerned, is the time when the cron(8) daemon startup. In particular, it may be before some system daemons, or other facilities, were startup. This is due to the boot order sequence of the machine.

This is far from being the only way to run something at boot time, but it's an alternative.


Pretty much all variants of Linux (going back a long, long time) have a file /etc/rc.local which runs on startup - you can just add the command to it.

That said, you don't even need to do that. The "correct" way would be to modify / add the line kernel.sysrq = 1 into /etc/sysctl.conf

  • I almost got what you said but I'm stuck with your last sentence: The "correct" way would be to modify / add the line kernel.sysrq = 1 into /etc/sysctl.conf (you stopped here) ... do you have extra explanation here? then how can I run the extra command after putting kernel.sysrq=1
    – Kalib Zen
    Apr 13, 2021 at 3:20
  • @KalibZen You can type "sysctl -p" to get sysctl to reload the settings from /etc/sysctl.conf.
    – davidgo
    Apr 13, 2021 at 5:37
  • No, not that one, the question is about startup.. The first paragraph I got it you talk about /etc/rc.local but the last paragraph I don't understand what are you trying to say. What is the kernel.sysrq =1 has to do with startup ?
    – Kalib Zen
    Apr 13, 2021 at 14:29
  • Ok, now I got it, the last paragraph is not about startup as mentioned by OP but you gave solution how to overcome that without using startup method. Forgive me to just read the title question not the content of the question. But if you could rephrase your last paragraph to explicitly say, 'for your case' then it's going to be clear. I mistakenly read the last paragraph as 'you don't even need to do that; meaning I misunderstood not to do the rc.local thing and you came out with the kernel.sysrq=1 thing)
    – Kalib Zen
    Apr 13, 2021 at 14:31
  • Not sure what you are saying. (The OS automatically reads sysctl.conf and actions this on startup)
    – davidgo
    Apr 13, 2021 at 20:39

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