Adventures in Cronologger

Cronjobs are one of those necessary evils of any decent sized Unix setup, they provide often essential pieces of a sites data flows but are often treated as second class citizens. While I’ve already mentioned my Cron commandments I’m always looking for improvements in the rest of my cron tool set and, with Vladimir Vuksan’s cronologger, I may have found another piece of the puzzle.

The concept is simple, you add a command to the front of your crontabs and it invokes your actual cron command. This wrapper script collects the stdout, stderr and some other details such as exit code and run time. The backend is a couchdb data store and the simple reporting pages are written in PHP, and are easy to work through, crib and base your own reports from. Having all this cron information also helps provide a talking point with development, it’s easy to show progress and imbue a sense of actually getting somewhere when the number of cronjobs with errors drops each day, rather than the systems team mentioning that their email boxes are a little emptier since the last release.

While our initial tests seem positive there are a couple of reports and tweaks to the command line data injector that we want for our local usage. The biggest problem with the project may well be that the idea is so obviously correct that we end up re-implementing it in something a little more suitable for our environment. Maybe a Python command line client and Perl Template Toolkit driven reports to replace the PHP. But that’s a possibility for later - for now cronologger is a great 80% solver.