I have a shell script that works fine when run manually, but fails when run through the crontab. The script essentially does as follows:

Python script to get audio data and pipe to stdout | ffmpeg the data from stdin and pipe to stdout | stream the data from stdin

When run through crontab the streaming fails, complaining that there is no data at stdin (...No (more) data available on standard input).

I found this answer which seems to allude to the issue of file descriptors in crontab, but I would appreciate some more details on the problem and the best way to get around it.

EDIT: Troubleshooting the issue by trying each individual command separately shows that the issue starts in the python script which complains:

close failed in file object destructor:
sys.excepthook is missing
lost sys.stderr"

instead of outputting audio data. Following the advice here and here (added sys.stdout.flush() to the end of the file) I can see the actual error message is:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/home/*username*/testing.py", line 109, in <module>
IOError: [Errno 9] Bad file descriptor

So perhaps it's more of a python issue..though from the error it stil seems to have to do with stdin/stdout

  • 3
    Please show us the exact command/script and the exact error message. Please do not respond in comments; edit your question to make it clearer and more complete. Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:10
  • @G-Man Done, though not sure how much information it adds in this specific instance, which is why I left it general.
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:18
  • It points a finger at the my_python_file.py script. Can you capture the raw output from that script (in cron) and write it to a file? Something like /usr/bin/python /home/tzvi/my_python_file.py >/tmp/my_file.dat 2>/tmp/my_file.err Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:20
  • @roaima Done. Thank you, I'm sorry I didn't think to consider that the problem could have started somewhere else--though it does still seem to me to be related to piping in cron
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 17:32
  • 1
    Fixed. I will try to update with an answer later
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


As it turns out, the issue really was the python file and cron, but not an issue with file descriptors (stdin/stdout) in the way I had expected.

Rather, as per this answer having a line asking for user input while running through cron was causing the issue. I solved the issue by removing the request for user input as for me it was unnecessary.

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