[lug] Where's the "MASTER" crontab file?

Hugh Brown hugh at math.byu.edu
Mon Oct 11 22:52:52 MDT 2004

On Mon, 2004-10-11 at 22:34, Bill Thoen wrote:
> When you issue a 'crontab -e' from an RH9 system does it copy your cron
> table from /var/cron/ into a temporary file, invokes the default editor
> with this and then replace the original file with the edited copy?
> The reason I ask is because I want to make a daily backup of all the files 
> relevant to my user account, and I want to know if /var/cron/bthoen is the 
> file I need to save or if the "master" file (darkly mentioned in the 
> crontab file header as in, thou shalt not edit this...) is actually 
> somewhere else.
> Thanks,
> Bill Thoen

The master crontab file for <user> on redhat 9 is in 

For SuSE 9.1 it is in /var/spool/cron/tabs/<user>
For Debian Sarge it is in /var/spool/cron/crontabs/<user>

When I type crontab -e, I get a vi session that says,
"/tmp/crontab.sFpgrk/crontab" at the bottom.  So your suggestion about
the temp file is most likely right.

You can also store the output of crontab -l in a file.  I've also gotten
in the habit of storing my crontab in ~/crontab and then running:

crontab ~/crontab

to load it.


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