I'm trying to send cron output to an email address and am struggling... I'm running the following command:

13 15 * * 1-5 root /path/to/mysql-backup.sh 2>&1 | mail -s "Daily Database Backup Report" [email protected]

That shows this error within /var/mail/root

/usr/bin/mail: line 1: syntax error near unexpected token `('
/usr/bin/mail: line 1: `Config file not found (-s)'

Is this trying to validate/execute the output of the cron?

Do you do this on your server? If so, how?

3 Answers 3


In my experience, /usr/bin/mail is a binary executable, but on your system the shell seems to be loading and interpreting it. syntax error near unexpected token is a bash diagnostic.

This can happen if you have overwritten an executable. Is there any conceivable chance that you have overwritten /usr/bin/mail with the text "Config file not found (-s)", causing said text to be fed to the shell when you try to execute it?


Have you tried mailx if it works? or check if you can do the mail within the bash script itself.


I suppose the outcome of your script ´/path/to/mysql-backup.sh´ is binary, and the reason why mail runs into the error is because you cannot simply pipe binary output without encoding it.

A good way to attach files on command line is mutt. Check out the discussion at how-do-i-send-a-file-as-an-email-attachment-using-linux-command-line.

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