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What is hcron?

hcron is a periodic command scheduler along the lines of the ubiquitous cron–but with some really useful differences. hcron will appeal especially to those at large sites and system administrators.

Comparing cron/crontab to hcron

crontab entry:

# hello_dolly
0 11,21 * 2-12/2 * ssh 'echo "hello dolly" > /tmp/hello_dolly'; mail -s done

hcron event files (called hello_dolly):

command=echo "hello dolly" > /tmp/hello_dolly

Using hcron means never needing to check the crontab man page to remember the field order. But there is more to hcron than a key=value approach. See the docs for more.

What Sets hcron Apart?

There are many alternative cron implementations. However, many of the following features are quite unique to hcron:

  • hcron's event format is much easier to work with than the table format of cron
  • hcron events are managed individually
  • hcron events are labelled and organized hierarchically
  • hcron events do not get clobbered during system reinstalls
  • hcron is network-oriented rather than host-oriented

hcron Is Dependable

At Environment Canada, hcron is in 24/7 operational use, with increasing use:

  • early deployment: over 1500 event definitions with more than 36000 events scheduled each day
  • 2012-08-18: over 1900 event definitions, and more than 75000 events scheduled each day
  • 2014-11-27: over 300 users, over 3000 event definitions, and more than 130000 events scheduled each day
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