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4.4.3. The at command

The at command executes commands at a given time, using your default shell unless you tell the command otherwise (see the man page).

The options to at are rather user-friendly, which is demonstrated in the examples below:

[email protected]:~> at tomorrow + 2 days
warning: commands will be executed using (in order) a) $SHELL
        b) login shell c) /bin/sh
at>  cat reports | mail [email protected]
at> <EOT>
job 1 at 2001-06-16 12:36

Typing Ctrl+D quits the at utility and generates the "EOT" message.

User steven does a strange thing here combining two commands; we will study this sort of practice in Chapter 5, Redirecting Input and Output.

[email protected]:~> at 0237
warning: commands will be executed using (in order) a) $SHELL
        b) login shell c) /bin/sh
at>  cd new-programs
at>  ./configure; make
at> <EOT>
job 2 at 2001-06-14 02:00

The -m option sends mail to the user when the job is done, or explains when a job can't be done. The command atq lists jobs; perform this command before submitting jobs in order prevent them from starting at the same time as others. With the atrm command you can remove scheduled jobs if you change your mind.

It is a good idea to pick strange execution times, because system jobs are often run at "round" hours, as you can see in Section 4.4.4 the next section. For example, jobs are often run at exactly 1 o'clock in the morning (e.g. system indexing to update a standard locate database), so entering a time of 0100 may easily slow your system down rather than fire it up. To prevent jobs from running all at the same time, you may also use the batch command, which queues processes and feeds the work in the queue to the system in an evenly balanced way, preventing excessive bursts of system resource usage. See the Info pages for more information.

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