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I'm trying to get my cron jobs to output errors if the cron job fails. I've created a command that will purposefully fail to try and test this, like so:

* * * * * php /var/some/nonexistent/script.php >> cronLog.log 

I don't want to mess with using an MTA since Google Compute Engine blocks all outgoing SMTP requests to port 25, but I can't see anything in cronLog.log. I have the permissions set up correctly, and I can write to cronLog.log no problem when a php script executes successfully. So if the output is being piped successfully to cronLog.log during a successful cron job, why does it just disappear if the command fails? There is nothing in syslog either. Where does my error output go?

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You are not capturing stderr which is where the error messages are output. Try

 * * * * * php /var/some/nonexistent/script.php >> cronLog.log 2>&1

the 2>&1 redirects stderr to stdout which is itself redirected to cronLog.log.

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