This is my current system date

root@48392:/home/# date
Mon Apr 25 19:08:13 CEST 2016

Now I set up an at job...

root@48392:/home/# echo "ls" | at now
warning: commands will be executed using /bin/sh
job 111254 at Mon Apr 25 19:09:00 2016

according to at, job 111254 will run on

Thu Nov 12 19:11:00 2054
  • 1
    Do you get a sensible time if you use "now +1 minute"? Apr 25, 2016 at 18:22

3 Answers 3


With regards to now the man at states that:

 You can also give times like now + count time-units, where the  
 time-units can be minutes, hours, days, or weeks

Nowhere does it say it is allowed to use at now without such an additional count of time-units, so I am not surprised you get undefined/unexpected behaviour.

  • Interestingly, the date "Thu Nov 12 19:11:00 2054" cannot even be parsed or converted to Epoch time. It would have been interesting to find out which weird arithmetic error produced this date from the current system date.
    – Guido
    Apr 25, 2016 at 17:52
  • The definitive TIMESPEC yacc grammar does permit "now". Contrary to the man page it is acceptable without any subsequent token. (However I've not had time to check what "now" actually means.) Apr 25, 2016 at 18:17
  • 1
    On my system at now does what you might expect, and runs the job immediately (subject to queue limits). Apr 25, 2016 at 22:09
  • 1
    "Weird arithmetic error" ?? The job number is 11 12 54 and the date is Nov 12 2054. Coincidence? Dec 21, 2019 at 0:06

It appears at now is setting the time as far in the future as possible when parsing of the time string now fails. The command batch is intended to run now, or at least as close to now as load permits.

You may be able to reschedule by using atq to cat the job to an at request with the desired time. The man page for at, batch and related commands should give you more information


The correct answer is: echo 'ls' | at now + 0 minutes

This will execute the script "now".

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