How to Easily Create Cron jobs in Linux with Zeit

Easy Crontab With Zeit Featured

Cron allows you to run commands, programs, and scripts automatically at defined points in time or on a schedule. It’s powerful, it’s light, and it’s also hard to wrap your head around. That’s why you can find front-ends that try to simplify the use of crontab, and Zeit is one of the best ones.

Zeit’s sole goal is to make adding and managing your cron jobs very easy. With Zeit, running commands and scripts is as straightforward as adding a new entry to a task list. Let’s see how it allows you to easily create cron jobs in Linux.

Installation

On most Linux distributions, you’ll have to build Zeit from source. After downloading it, and according to the official documentation, you can turn it into a usable app with:

If you’re on Ubuntu, you can add its repository and install Zeit with the following commands:

Easy Crontab With Zeit Add Apt Repository

After a while, you’ll find Zeit among the rest of your installed programs. Locate and run the app.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Installed

Tasks and Schedules

Zeit’s interface is straightforward. To add a task, click “Add Task” button.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Add Task

Enter a name for your task in the Description field. Type the command you want to schedule in the Command field.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Task Details

In the “Time and Date” section, you can select Basic, which allows you to quickly schedule a task to run on a regular pattern. For more customization, choose the Advanced option.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Task Basic Scheduling

The Advanced option allows you to input precisely the minute, hour, day, day of the week, and month a task will run. All fields are populated initially with an asterisk, which works as a wildcard translating to “every.” For example, if you input “*” in the Day field, it means “every day.”

Easy Crontab With Zeit Task Advanced Time Settings

You can input more than one number, separating them with commas. For example, if you enter “20, 23” in the Hour field and “35′ in the Minute field, your task will run at 20:35 and 23:35 every day.

If you ever want a reminder of crontab’s syntax, leave your mouse hovering over one of the fields. Zeit will show you a useful pop-up with a list of examples of how you can set up the task’s schedule.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Task List

After you’ve created a task, it will appear in Zeit’s main list. If you want to disable a task quickly, you can double-click on it, while a right-click will also allow you to edit or entirely remove it.

Alarms and Timers

Zeit allows you to set up Alarms and Timers, but we won’t go into detail on how to do that, since it’s even simpler than tasks. With Alarms and Timers, you don’t have to worry about wildcards and complicated schedules, for even if it would be useful for some, there’s no such functionality offered.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Alarms

You can only set simple schedules, defining the time and selecting the days when an Alarm or Timer will run. That’s it. Two extra buttons allow you to input the current time in the Hour and Minutes fields (the Now button) or clear them (the Reset button). You must use the two buttons with the folder icons, next to Player and Sound File, to choose a media player and a sound file when setting up alarms and timers. Since Zeit/crontab won’t have a way to notify you without them, it also won’t allow you to set up a rule with those fields being blank.

Control Everything

With Zeit, you’re editing your own crontab rules by default, active only for your user account. To see all rules (by others and the system) and be able to edit everything, enable “System Mode” from the View menu.

Easy Crontab With Zeit System Mode

With System Mode, you’ll be able to tweak existing rules – for example, for the automated reports Ubuntu creates for your OS. Be extra careful when tweaking such rules and keep in mind that any changes you make can break stuff. It’s also possible for your tweaks to be overwritten after a software update.

Filter and Find

If you find yourself trying to locate a particular rule, you can use its search feature instead of scrolling up and down the list. Press Ctrl + F on your keyboard, and a search field will appear at the bottom of Zeit’s window. Enter your search term to find the task you want to find.

Easy Crontab With Zeit Filtering

Now that you know how to use Zeit to create cron jobs in Linux, are you going to make good use of crontab to automate your system? Alternatively, you can also use systemd as a cron replacement.

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Odysseas Kourafalos Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

4 comments

  1. With all due respect, but exactly _how_ is this so much easier than using ‘vi(m)’ on the user/root crontabs?
    It is not that the crontab entries are hard to understand and they are not only well documented, but the default ones give you an easy template for adding new ones.

    I am sorry, but this is just another case of ‘windowism’: By all means, never use a plain text-file for configuration issues when a more complicated one (and preferably binary) will do the same …

  2. Thanks for the article, I welcome such a tool !

    There is a number of pitfalls I already felt in by directly editing crontab. Things like tab/spaces, the envoronment, cron vs. anacron and soecially execution as user instead of root.
    And no, I dont prefer to first read through the wall of available cron/anacron ducumentation and search the www for distro and version specifics spins of both.

    @Loke, when you blame such a tool for windowism, you as well can blame all other GUI tools. Ofc you can do all stuff on console. The point is, the possibility to choose. You dont like it ? Dont use it !

  3. https://crontab-generator.org/

    Only time you’d need to worry is if they take the page down or you don’t have internet access, no need to build a GUI package from source for this if you don’t even have X installed on the server

  4. The script given above for Ubunto 20.04 does not work. When the statement “sudo add-apt-repository ppa:blaze/main” is executed the following error is issued.

    Err”4 http://ppa.laumchpad.net/blaze/main/ubuntu groovy release
    404 Not found [IP: 91.189.95..85.80]

    When snap is used instead the not yet ready for prime time error is issued.

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