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I want to create a log file for a cron script that has the current hour in the log file name. This is the command I tried to use:

0 * * * * echo hello >> ~/cron-logs/hourly/test`date "+%d"`.log

Unfortunately I get this message when that runs:

/bin/sh: -c: line 0: unexpected EOF while looking for matching ``'
/bin/sh: -c: line 1: syntax error: unexpected end of file

I have tried escaping the date part in various ways, but without much luck. Is it possible to make this happen in-line in a crontab file or do I need to create a shell script to do this?

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1 Answer

up vote 21 down vote accepted

Short answer:

Try this:

0 * * * * echo hello >> ~/cron-logs/hourly/test`date "+\%d"`.log

Note the backslash escaping the % sign.

Long answer:

The error message suggests that the shell which executes your command doesn't see the second back tick character:

/bin/sh: -c: line 0: unexpected EOF while looking for matching ``'

This is also confirmed by the second error message your received when you tried one of the other answers:

/bin/sh: -c: line 0: unexpected EOF while looking for matching `)'

The crontab manpage confirms that the command is read only up to the first unescaped % sign:

The "sixth" field (the rest of the line) specifies the command to be run. The entire command portion of the line, up to a newline or % character, will be executed by /bin/sh or by the shell specified in the SHELL variable of the cronfile. Percent-signs (%) in the command, unless escaped with backslash (\), will be changed into newline charac- ters, and all data after the first % will be sent to the command as standard input.

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awesome - thanks so much! +1 –  cwd Jan 20 '12 at 19:58
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