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Running PHP scripts as cron jobs

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Submitted on: 7/30/2001 3:39:59 PM
By: Gianluca Baldo  
Level: Beginner
User Rating: By 2 Users
Compatibility:PHP 3.0, PHP 4.0

Users have accessed this article 14402 times.
 

(About the author)
 
     This article explains how to run a PHP script as a cron job, depending on your PHP installation.

 
 
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Running PHP scripts as cronjobs

I personally found myself in the need to run some PHP scripts I wrote, every X minutes, or evey day at a certain time and so on.
One example: phpauction package includes a script (cron.php) which is responsable for detecting expired auctions, close them (thus updating database tables accordingly), sending e-mails (to the seller and eventually to the winner of the auction), writing into a log file and more.
I use to run this script every minute in the sites where I use phpauction.

The first solution if you have such a problem would be to run the script directly from the browser (http://www.somedomain.com/cron.php) but if you really need and want to run your script regularly, this solution becomes ridiculos.

A second possible approach is to include the script in one of the pages of the site (i.e. index.php). Something like:



at the very top of index.php. This works but only if someone accesses our index.php page. Again, if you want regularity, this is not a real solution.

Cron is usually available in all Unix/Linux installations. It is a daemon which allow you to schedule programs and scripts execution. If you want to read something more about cron, go here.

Let's suppose you know what cron is and how it works. We now have to run (following the cron.php sample) our script, let's say, every minute.
The first dilema depends on your PHP installation:

  • Compiled CGI
  • Apache module

Compiled CGI
In the first case you'll have to add a line to your script. It must the first line of your script and must contain PHP executable location:

#!/usr/local/bin/php -q

After that let's add the necessary command to our crontab. Edit /etc/crontab (or wherever your crontab file is) and add the following line:

* * * * * php /path/to/your/cron.php

execute the following from the command line:

Shell> crontab crontab

Be sure cron.php has the necessary permissions to be executable.


Apache module

If you have PHP installed as an Apache module the approach is quite different.

First of all you need access to lynx (read here for more information).
You PHP script does not need additional lines in this case. You simply have to edit your /etc/crontab file and add the following line:

* * * * * lynx -dump http://www.somedomain.com/cron.php

Note you generally have to specify the compete URL: depending on your lynx configuration the URL should be relative but I suggest to always use the absolute reference like in the example above, since it always works.

Again execute the following from the command line:

Shell> crontab crontab

That's it.


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Other User Comments
8/6/2001 2:57:40 PM:Timo Schlegel
I do the same (Apache module) on my server, so I get every day a mail with the current statistics and free space,...
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8/20/2001 7:57:10 AM:Mary Lacey
Thank you for your help with cron. I have been trying to get it to work and now I think I have it!
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8/20/2001 7:58:21 AM:Mary Lacey
Thank you for your help with cron. I have been having trouble getting it right but now I think I have it!
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11/11/2001 11:00:12 PM:Dave Minor
For Win32 users, the BadBlue PHP server has an easier version of cron built in. Free download available. Read about scheduling here: http://badblue.com/helpsch.htm and configuring for PHP here: http://badblue.com/helpphps.htm
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4/17/2002 3:59:36 PM:Tom McCrary
I couldn't get the Lynx Dump to work, so I created a perl script to do the same thing... #!/usr/bin/perl use LWP; $data=
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2/28/2003 4:21:47 AM:
I can't get the Lynx -dump to work, either. I get
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2/28/2003 4:23:10 AM:
I can't get the Lynx -dump to work, either. I get a message saying I can't clear the screen and position my cursor. My PHP is an Apache module. Any suggestions?
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8/27/2003 3:18:58 AM:Gianluca Baldo
With some versions of lynx you get the
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