I have a script which I call every 10 minutes with a cronjob:

*/10 * * * * ~/mydirectory/myscript.sh

Now, inside ~/mydirectory there is also another script, let's say myotherscript.sh which I'd like to call from inside myscript.sh. Both scripts have been chmod'ed to be executable and when I execute myscript.sh from the command line inside ~/mydirectory everything works fine. I execute it as follows:

. myscript.sh

But it doesn't look like the cronjob works. When I remove the reference to the second script from inside the primary script, it works though so I suspect there is something wrong with the way I reference the second script. This is what the contents of myscript.sh looks like:

#! /bin/bash
. myotherscript.sh

Could it be that, when the cronjob runs, the current directory is not ~/mydirectory and so the cronjob can't find the myotherscript.sh file? If so, how to I get it to see the file? I don't want to specify the absolute path inside the primary script as I might want to move it (and myotherscript.sh) to another directory at some point or I might want to rename ~/mydirectory at some point and I don't then want to have to change the contents of myscript.sh to reference the new absolute path.

BONUS QUESTION: Right now, when it's time for the cronjob to execute I basically just hold thumbs and hope for the best but I have no way of seeing whether it was successful and if it failed, why it failed. Any tips on how I can see why the cronjob didn't execute as expected?


OK, so glenn jackman's answer works and it also answered my bonus question but I have since figured out another and what I believe to be more elegant way of making sure the cronjob runs in the directory in which the scripts are located.

Simply by replacing

*/10 * * * * ~/mydirectory/myscript.sh


*/10 * * * * cd ~/mydirectory && ./myscript.sh

And that solves the problem. Everything works.


You are calling the script incorrectly. It should be:

#! /bin/bash
  • Would you mind quickly explaining what the difference between . myotherscript.sh and ./myotherscript.sh is? – Dewald Swanepoel Mar 27 '15 at 20:47
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    Well im not sure what . myotherscript.sh actually does. I just know through my experience that when I was to call a script within a script I would simply add ./myotherscript.sh;` – ryekayo Mar 27 '15 at 20:48
  • But if i was to guess with glenn's answer, it seems that the . refers to the pwd and then using ./script.sh calls the script... – ryekayo Mar 27 '15 at 20:50
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    . is the shell's "source" command that reads the script and executes it in the current shell. – glenn jackman Mar 27 '15 at 20:53
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    That means you're launching the script in a separate process. The difference is important if the other script declares some variables or functions, or changes to another directory, and you rely on those effects in the current shell: . ./other will keep those "side effects" in the current shell; if you use a separate process ./other, then the side effects disappear when the process exits. – glenn jackman Mar 27 '15 at 21:09

myscript should have:

cd "$(dirname "$0")"
. ./myotherscript.sh

When cron launches your script, the $PWD might be / so you should go to where your script is located if you want to use relative paths.

You may find it useful to log your script's output:

*/10 * * * * ~/mydirectory/myscript.sh 2>&1 | /usr/bin/ts '[%FT%T]' >> ~/mydirectory/myscript.log

ts adds a timestamp to each line of input. On Fedora and Ubuntu, it's in the moreutils package.

  • I'm not sure I understand the syntax of cd "$(dirname "$0")"? When I add exactly that into me script and try to run it from the command line I get an error "dirname: invalid option -- 'b'" – Dewald Swanepoel Mar 27 '15 at 20:55
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    @DewaldSwanepoel - read Glenn's answer here. – don_crissti Mar 27 '15 at 21:06
  • @don_crissti, good find. I totally forgot about that. – glenn jackman Mar 27 '15 at 21:12
  • Don't use dirname here - it has the (admittedly extremely unlikely) chance of mangling the directory name which you want to print. cd -- "${0%/*}" will work as well (if either will work at all - if the script being run sets $0 somehow to anything other than a fully qualified path then you're SOL in both cases). – mikeserv Mar 27 '15 at 23:30

Defining a PATH and MAILTO within the crontab should help.

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