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How can I execute date inside of a cron tab job?

I have a server in Amazon EC2 that I run a backup script on with cron. However, it is not working. To test out if cron is working, I did the following:

Logged into the server and switched to root. I then ran "crontab -e". It has the following lines:


29 00 * * thu tar -zcvf /home/<user removed>/Dropbox/Backup/DirBackup_$(date +%Y%m%d).tar.gz /var/www/html/
30 00 * * thu mysqldump -u <removed> -h <removed> -p<removed> --opt <removed> > /home/<user removed>/Dropbox/Backup/database-backup-$(date +%Y%m%d).sql
*/1 * * * * touch /tmp/foo

So, the touch command should go every minute, and the others should run at 00:29 and 00:30 on Thursday. Here is what the logs say:

Sep 20 00:27:01 ip-10-204-142-149 CROND[16888]: (root) CMD (touch /tmp/foo)
Sep 20 00:28:01 ip-10-204-142-149 CROND[16890]: (root) CMD (touch /tmp/foo)
Sep 20 00:29:01 ip-10-204-142-149 CROND[16898]: (root) CMD (tar -zcvf /home/<user removed>/Dropbox/Backup/DirBackup_$(date +)
Sep 20 00:29:01 ip-10-204-142-149 CROND[16900]: (root) CMD (touch /tmp/foo)
Sep 20 00:30:01 ip-10-204-142-149 CROND[16913]: (root) CMD (mysqldump -u <removed> -h <removed> -p<removed> --opt <removed> > /home/<user removed>/Dropbox/Backup/database-backup-$(date +)

If I check the time stamps on the /tmp/foo folder, they are changing every minute. If I check Dropbox, the files are not there. (I am using "ls /home//Dropbox/Backup/" to check this to verify that it is not a Dropbox upload problem) They should be! I tested that by copy/pasting the command from cron onto the command line....it works great!

Does anybody know why cron would be logging the commands but they are not actually working?

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marked as duplicate by Gilles, Renan, jasonwryan, warl0ck, Mikel Sep 21 '12 at 21:18

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

You have MAILTO=root. Have you checked root's mail spool? (Try running mail as root.) – Mikel Sep 20 '12 at 1:00
@Mikel, I check mail, and sure enough, the sql command is giving me an error that is mailed to me: "/bin/bash: -c: line 0: unexpected EOF while looking for matching `)'" I think this might be something with VI? Because I copy and paste that from my command line and it should be ">", not ")" – Jon Sep 21 '12 at 19:41

So apparently it was a problem in the syntax for cron. To work around this, I simply put my commands into a script and used the command:

58 23 * * 6 root exec /home/<username>/Dropbox/backups

This runs the script every Saturday, and I tested it to make sure it works.

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