The at daemon is a great tool! However, if a job is scheduled for 8:00 am and the machine is off at that time, at will run the job whenever the machine is booted. What I would like to do is stop it from running the job if the time is past. I have searched the man pages, and online, but either there is not an answer or I could not find one. I am using Arch, but as far as I know at is very similar across distributions.

Any help is much appreciated!

4 Answers 4


When does a job become a past job? If you turn on the system at 7:59:50 and the at daemon starts at 8:00:01, should the job be executed? What if the daemon starts at 7:59:59 but takes two seconds to read all of its files?

You decide! Start your job with a time check, and abort if the time is past.

export execute_by_date=$(date +%s 'tomorrow 8:01')
at tomorrow 8:00
[ "$(date +%s)" -le "$execute_by_date" ] || exit

You could write an init-script that cancels all sheduled at-jobs on shutdown or reboot.

I am not sure about Arch-Linux - is there a /etc/sysconfig/at or something similar? Perhaps it is just a config-switch you have to flip over...

  • I think this is the best solution, flush the at queue at boot before at starts up.
    – bahamat
    Jul 25, 2012 at 0:31
  • This is exactly what I expect would/should be possible! Unfortunately there is no /etc/sysconfig/ directory at all in Arch... And none of the files listed in the man pages are config files. Jul 25, 2012 at 2:34
  • @Elmer I just Googled a bit and read about arch linux. '/etc/rc.d/atd' seems to be the init-script for the at-daemon there. Have a look there if you can see it parsing some config-file. If you are not lucky there you have to go for your own init-script (e.g name it atclear and run it before atd).
    – Nils
    Jul 25, 2012 at 19:21

My vote is for the cron daemon.

If you need to run it at specific times of the day, but not at the same time each day, I'd create a crontab with one entry per day range with an specific execution time:

Some examples taken from crontab(5):

# run five minutes after midnight, every day
5 0 * * *       command
# run at 2:15pm on the first of every month
15 14 1 * *     command
# run at 10 pm on weekdays
0 22 * * 1-5    command

What you want is the cron daemon. It does exactly what you want.

Feed you favourite search engine for cron daemon and you have a bunch of manuals and instructions. man cron and man crontab is also helpful.

  • Thanks for the help, but cron does not work for my problem. I need a script run at specific times of the day, but not at the same time each day. Jul 24, 2012 at 17:05

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