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ESXi Cron Programming - How to use the extended XSIBackup crontab to run any task

Since version 11.0.0 this post is irrelevant, as XSIBackup uses the ESXi crontab which offers full crontab flexibility. We'll keep it for users of versions below 11.0.0

The ESXi cron is a very limited service provided by Busybox, which crontab is not even persistent across host reboots. This is quite annoying for the more experienced sysadmins, who are willing to take control of the server.

The only way to workaround this issue is to add the cron commands to a startup script, which in turn adds then to the crontab. This is extremely cumbersome and very unpractical. This is the method that XSIBackup uses to install its crontab, although in this case the process is automated and just takes a short command and a key stroke from part of the user.

Once XSIBackup has installed its crontab, you may add backup jobs there, which will be executed at the scheduled times. As most crontabs, XSIBackup's is called every minute, and if there's something to do, a backup job is triggered. You can add other bash commands into this file, in fact it's a bash file, but, if you do so, those commands will be executed every minute.

We have added some simple logic to this crontab so that you can use it to run any script or program of your choice, including of course XSIBackup jobs. XSIBackup's crontab syntax is simpler than that of regular Linux crontabs, and much more intuitive. It allows you to set execution times in two different ways or fashions:

1 - By weekday, hour and minute, i.e.: "Fri 17:03", where Fri is the weekday acronym followed by hh:mm

2 - By day of the month, hour and minute, i.e.: "17t20:33", where 17 is a month day and t is a constant, followed by hh:mm

XSIBackup's crontab is designed to execute recurring tasks, so by combining weekly and monthly options, you can easily program almost anything you may need.

This is an extended xsibackup-cron file that you can use to extend its functionality, it will be added as an option in next XSIBackup version.

This page was last modified on 2018-08-14

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