[Mailman-Users] problem with cron jobs

John Dennis jdennis at redhat.com
Wed Mar 9 22:45:14 CET 2005

On Wed, 2005-03-09 at 12:07 -0700, Jon Jacobsen wrote:
> Hi,
> I installed a Redhat rpm mailman-2.1.5-23 on a Redhat enterprise server. 
> The mailman appears to be working, but I'm having problems with cron. 
> When the job run root posts to the 'mailman' list I created the following:
> /bin/sh: line 1: mailman: command not found
> I have no errors with 'check_perms' and /etc/cron.d/mailman looks fine. 
> I can run:
> #su - mailman -c "/var/mailman/cron/gate_news"
> without errors.
> Any Ideas?

There is a difference between the format of cron jobs created with
crontab vs. what is the system cron files located in /etc/cron.d. That
difference is the insertion of the username (uid) that the cron job is
to be run as. The username is inserted after the 5 time fields and
before the command. Look at the file /etc/cron.d/mailman, you'll see
lines that look something like this:

0 5 1 * * mailman /usr/lib/mailman/cron/mailpasswds

Note that the 6th field is the username "mailman" which is the user the
command is supposed run with the privileges of. ONLY files
in /etc/cron.d have this extra field. If you installed the cron jobs
using the command "crontab" using a file that has this format (recall
that crontab files DO NOT have the username in them, its specified as an
argument to crontab (e.g. -u) then cron will be confused into thinking
the command is "mailman" because the 6th entry in a crontab file is the
command (its the 7th entry in a system cron file).

This is the most likely cause of the symptom you report. The rpm is
supposed to correctly handle the cron installation and is aware of the
difference between "system cron files" and files passed to crontab (of
course there might be an rpm bug, especially if you didn't manually try
to modify what the rpm installation did).

I just spoke with the cron maintainer here who said there were some
versions of cron in RHEL3 (which is the distribution your mailman rpm
came from) that had some bugs. You could try updating your version of
cron and see if that helps, but it really sounds to me like a mismatch
of the cron formats.

John Dennis <jdennis at redhat.com>

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