I understand what run-parts does but I would like to know why the program is called run-parts. I've never heard someone call an executable in a directory a part. Why did the author name it run-parts and what are the parts?

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    The source code says: "Based on run-parts.pl version 0.2, Copyright (C) 1994 Ian Jackson." I wonder if Ian Jackson remembers why after ~25 years. (Also, this would be around the time of Debian 0.91.) – muru Aug 28 '18 at 2:05
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    @muru I do find it a lot intuitive pointing to directories to run scripts (parts of a job?); as a latin based tongue speaker we also use a lot that expression – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 28 '18 at 2:09

Ian Jackson wrote back:

I probably named it. I'm not sure why the etymology is not obvious. It runs various parts.

And a follow-up on why it could have used the word "parts":

They're just parts of the task to be run.


As per man 4 run-parts

Historically the crontab file contained configuration which called run-parts on files in cron.{daily,weekly,monthly} directories.

Crontabs is a historical name for the run-parts script and the system crontab. The run-parts script runs all executables in the specified directory. Run-parts runs all executables in the specified directory. The execution of files can be allowed or denied by creating file jobs.allow or jobs.deny which worked similar as other allow/deny config files. The file must be created in the specified directory.

From what is run-parts in /etc/crontab, and how do I use it

It will run every script that is found in a directory. For example, if you do a listing of /etc/cron.hourly, you'll see that it's a directory where you can put executable files to be run every hour.

So, what we can see is that run-parts is a script created for the convenience of running crontab jobs scatered in files in a directory, and the parts are each individual script.

  • This doesn't really answer my question, it's just a restatement of my second sentence. – ldrg Aug 28 '18 at 2:02
  • I have noticed now, running late here... maybe you are answering you own question I guess. – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 28 '18 at 2:03

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