At Cronit, we publish a software solution that allows you to schedule tasks over the Internet, without having to set up servers. However, it can sometimes be useful to provide the possibility to do it locally. Although the Cron software is the best known for this task, others could make you happy, by answering particular use cases.
In this article, we will try to introduce you to some of these alternatives, popular on the Linux operating system.
The most frequently cited alternative to Cron is called Anacron. From a configuration point of view, both software is very similar. However, where Anacron stands out is in the ability to run on machines that can be rebooted at certain times of the day. Where Cron assumes that it will run on servers that are always on, Anacron will take into account the time spent when your computer is turned off, to restart the tasks that were executed during the shutdown period.
However, Anacron has one limitation: the software does not allow you to run tasks that need to run every hour or minute.
Fcron combines the best of Cron and Anacron. Indeed, just like Anacron, fcron works with a known syntax and allows you to take into account the shutdown times of your machine. But fcron adds an extra granularity to the configuration possibilities by allowing to run tasks with hourly or minute precision.
Depending on your use case, systemd, which is typically used to set up background services, can also be used instead of cron to run periodic tasks. Although it has less configuration options than cron, systemd gives you a possibility that cron does not have. With systemd, you can also define so-called "triggers", such as a system reboot, and run a task at a defined time after the event.