Tinkering with Raspberry (and other things)

Quick Tip: crontab and python

Often running a python script via crontab does not work as expected. The most common problem is with permissions, I am sure everybody is aware of.

Here are some other reasons why calling a python program from crontab may fail:

  1. The last line in the crontab file needs to be a newline
  2. Scripts called from within crontab may not contain a “.” (dot) character. This is weird and almost unknown to most users.
  3. crontab scripts may not have all PATH environments you have while testing your python program


So what to do about it? Here’s an easy solution:

Suppose you have added an import-path to your python installation like I did in this quick-tip. We are going to “wrap” the call to “” in a bash script and name that script “ourprogram_starter”. No dots, crontab is happy. In this script we export the PATH variable so that crontab and the “ourprogram_starter” can find all our custom modules.

export PYTHONPATH="$HOME/some_Directory_Name"
python /full/path/to/

Make sure that this file is executable and you’re good to go. Now crontab can call this script which sets all needed environment variables and then calls the python program.