missing cron job output, only from some jobs

tradersdata tradersdata at yahoo.com
Mon May 12 02:26:05 UTC 2008

I have one cron job that produces no email even though there is output. I have ssmtp installed, and working, so this is not the usual problem with cron output not being mailed because there's no MTA installed. I have other cron jobs that produce output and the emails are just fine. That means, I suppose, that it's likely not a cron, or an Ubuntu issue, but I'm at a loss as to where to look and am hoping someone has run across something similar and might be able to point me in the right direction.

The script in question is in Perl and does web scraping. It grabs around 400 pages and outputs a line for each page as it's downloaded, or an error message. It also prints summary information at the end. It takes anywhere from 2 hrs to 8 hrs to run, depending on the day of the week, so there are variable delays between each output line, rather than a continuous stream.  I mention this because it's the only thing I can think of for why the output might be lost -- that the opening to stdout and stderr times out because of the delays. But then, it would seem, I'd be getting empty emails from the Cron Daemon, and that's not happening. There's nothing. I also have another Perl script that does the same thing with another site, though on a much smaller scale. This one only produces output with errors, but I have received emails from it, and have no reason to think it's ever skipping any of that output. So that too argues against this idea, but it's all I have.

There's one last oddity. The file ~/dead.letter grows slowly, a line at a time over a period of days, but each line is blank. I can't think of any other mail that's leaving this machine, other than from Cron, so that seems a little weird. I have no reason to think it's related. In fact the mtime of ~/dead.letter is older than the last running of the cron job in question, so it's hard to imagine it being related.  But, again, I'm at a loss, hoping someone has a clue, and figured every bit of info should be shared.

Any ideas are appreciated.

Don Hammond

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