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I have a script which needs to be executed each minute. The problem is that cron is logging to /var/log/syslog each time it executes. I end up seeing something like this repeated over and over in /var/log/syslog-

Jun 25 00:56:01 myhostname /USR/SBIN/CRON[1144]: (root) CMD (php /path/to/script.php > /dev/null)

btw- i'm using debian

My questions is- Is there any way I can tell cron not write this information to syslog every time?

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Any idea how to do this on a Busybox platform? The format of /etc/syslog.conf is different... – Mark Lakata May 15 '13 at 0:14

5 Answers 5

You can send the output of cron to a separate log facility add the following to your /etc/syslog.conf file:

# Log cron stuff
cron.*                                                  /var/log/cron

Remember to add /var/log/cron to your /etc/logrotate.d/syslog to ensure it gets rotated, eg

# /etc/logrotate.d/syslog
/var/log/messages /var/log/secure /var/log/maillog /var/log/spooler /var/log/boot.log /var/log/cron {
    /bin/kill -HUP `cat /var/run/ 2> /dev/null` 2> /dev/null || true
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Thank you for the input. I added cron.* /var/log/cron and restarted cron but it continues to dump the messages into /var/log/syslog while leaving /var/log/cron empty. not sure why it's not doing anything – user7321 Jun 25 '09 at 3:49
oh man, epic failure on my part. I was editing syslog.conf and restarting cron!! No wonder it wouldn't work.. I should have been restarting syslog =) – user7321 Jun 25 '09 at 3:56
up vote 9 down vote accepted


The solution to my question was:


*.*;auth,authpriv.none     -/var/log/syslog


*.*;cron,auth,authpriv.none     -/var/log/syslog

within /etc/syslog.conf and then restart syslog

I also have cron being sent to /var/log/cron.log as suggested by Dave Cheney and stuck a logrotate on it. My fix with Daves suggestion is optimal for my situation because:

  1. it keeps /var/log/syslog from being cluttered with cron messages
  2. I still get cron messages (which is nice for troubleshooting)
  3. logrotate keeps /var/log/cron.log from going too large.
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For those concerned of modern systems, there is a rsyslog in Debian 8.0 Jessie, so it is the /etc/rsyslog.conf to be edited. By the way, the strings to be added are already there by default, you need just to uncomment it (line 63). And /var/log/cron.log is already in the /etc/logrotate.d/syslog, just like the package maintainers have read this thread. – TranslucentCloud May 14 at 19:41

Change /etc/default/cron

  # Or, to log standard messages, plus jobs with exit status != 0:
  # EXTRA_OPTS='-L 5' 
  # For quick reference, the currently available log levels are:
  #   0   no logging (errors are logged regardless)
  #   1   log start of jobs
  #   2   log end of jobs
  #   4   log jobs with exit status != 0
  #   8   log the process identifier of child process (in all logs)

By default the EXTRA_OPTS line is ""

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Actually, the 'best' (one could claim) solution is a combination of what @DaveCheney suggested and what user7321 did eventually, plus a third action which I would recommend:

  1. Preventing syslogd from appending cron-related log messages to /var/log/syslog
  2. Ensuring cron log messages do get logged somewhere (specifically, in /var/log/cron) + ensuring log rotation for the cron log.
  3. Preventing syslogd from appending cron-related log messages to /var/log/messages as well

In your /etc/syslog.conf, the combination of these changes something like

*.*;cron,auth,authpriv.none                         -/var/log/syslog
auth,authpriv.none;daemon.none;mail,news.none       -/var/log/messages


cron.*                                              /var/log/cron.log
*.*;cron,auth,authpriv.none                         -/var/log/syslog
auth,authpriv.none;cron,daemon.none;mail,news.none  -/var/log/messages

And don't forget to force-reload (or restart) both the cron and syslogd services, e.g. using:

/etc/init.d/syslogd force-reload
/etc/init.d/cron force-reload

Note: This works with rsyslog.d as well, and probably also with syslog-ng (possibly with some minor tweaking for syntax).

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I just solved this in a different way, but my aim was slightly different. I wanted to discard the cron log entries that were generated when atrun fired so that my hard drives could sleep and not be woken every 5 minutes.

You can have the target of a log event in syslog.conf be a shell command by prefixing it with the pipe, and so I used grep to throw away the ones I didn't want. So:

cron.*              | grep -v "(/usr/libexec/atrun)" >> /var/log/cron.log

I haven't investigated but I believe it should be possible to send those log entries to another target if they're still wanted.

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