I'm trying execute a basic shutdown crontab to run M-F at 10PM. So I did the following:

sudo crontab -e

Once inside of the crontab I added the following line:

0 22 * * 1-5 shutdown now

The job doesn't seem to be running properly and I cannot find any errors in /var/log/syslog. Is there anything glaringly wrong here?


4 Answers 4


Your problem is probably that the PATH in your crontab file is limited and does not include /sbin where shutdown is most likely located.

You should therefore use the full path for shutdown (you can check that with sudo which shutdown ):

0 22 * * 1-5 /sbin/shutdown now

From man 5 crontab:

Note in particular that if you want a PATH other than "/usr/bin:/bin", you will need to set it in the crontab file.

Instead of specifying the /sbin/shutdown you could do:

PATH = /sbin:$PATH
0 22 * * 1-5 shutdown now
  1. You can try to list the execution times with cronlist to see if it will run when you expect. As far as I can tell the cron job will be run at 22:00 Monday through Friday; is that what you want?
  2. What does shutdown now print if you execute it as a normal user?
  3. What does service cron status print? If it doesn't say cron start/running, you'll have to restart it with service cron start.
  4. Is the clock on the machine correct? It could be unconfigured or so out of sync that the job is run at completely the wrong days or time.
  5. Do you have any error messages like PAM bad jump in stack in /var/log/auth.log? That post contains a bunch of debugging information and things to try.
  • 1.) The cronlist command isn't found on my machine 2.) shutdown: Need to be root 3.) cron start/running, process 1200
    – nullByteMe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:06
  • Thanks, but this machine isn't connected to the Internet. There must be something silly happening...
    – nullByteMe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:10
  • 4.) The time is correct as well. I upvoted you to thank you for helping as these are good troubleshooting steps to take. Ill be sure to post the solution when I find it. It's a baseline ubuntu install and all I'm doing is what is in my post above
    – nullByteMe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:20
  • @nkon I feel your pain. My own non-working crontab is still not fixed, and tomorrow is my last day with that hardware. If you find a solution, it could be related to my problem as well (even though I do get log output).
    – l0b0
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:21

Check tail -n 100 /var/log/cron

And are you trying to run this cron using normal or root user?

  • I don't have that directory.
    – nullByteMe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 14:56
  • Trying to run it as root
    – nullByteMe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 14:58
  • Ok, try sudo grep -ic cron /var/log/* | grep -v “:0” . And what about the crond service??
    – OmiPenguin
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:00
  • grep finds it in my auth.log, pm-powersave.log, and syslog. I checked those files and none of the information given on cron was helpful
    – nullByteMe
    Jun 26, 2013 at 15:02

You do not have access to the shutdown command. Try this executing this:

sudo chmod u+s /sbin/shutdown

then in your crontab, specify the full path to shutdown

0 22 * * 1-5 /sbin/shutdown now

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