Run-parts vs. user crontab execution

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One caveat when running programs via run-parts (e.g., /etc/cron.hourly, /etc/cron.daily, etc.) vs. user crontabs is the HOME environment variable.

  • By default, HOME is set to / in /etc/crontab, so all scripts executed via run-parts have a HOME of /.
  • By default, HOME is the home directory in /etc/passwd of the crontab owner in user crontabs. This can be overwridden by including a HOME line in user crontabs.

This caused me problems when I tried to execute a MySQL backup script via run-parts that depended on ~/.my.cnf in the user's home directory. As a workaround, I modified the script to set the HOME environment variable rather than make a global change in /etc/crontab for all run-parts scripts.

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