Poor Man s Cron: The Poormanscron Module in Visual Basic .NET

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Poor Man s Cron: The Poormanscron Module
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For many people, the Poormanscron module (http://drupal.org/project/poormanscron) is the easiest choice for addressing the cron issue. The module is a snap to install. You just need
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to move it to the modules directory, activate it, and set some basic configurations, such as how often it should run. When people visit your site, the Poormanscron module triggers the cron tasks, exactly as calling cron.php would do. The main drawback to this approach is that it makes the cron tasks dependent on your site having visitors. This isn t a suitable solution if your site requires modules to do tasks like retrieving mail messages from the mail server (the Mass Mailer module, http://drupal.org/ project/massmailer, does this). When deciding whether to use the Poormanscron module, ask yourself if there are times of day when your site will be receiving little or no traffic, and whether there are cron tasks that need to be done during those times. If there are, then you should find a different solution. The Poormanscron module also adds a very small amount of overhead to every page request, though this is trivial and shouldn t play a role when you re deciding whether to use it.
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The part that confuses most people about using cron for your Drupal installation is that the cron program is responsible only for the scheduling. You need a second program to actually call the cron.php file. wget, lynx, and curl are three candidates for this second program, and you are free to choose which one works best for you. You need to configure the program to call the URL of the cron.php file via HTTP It is important to allow the web server to handle the . request instead of calling cron.php from the PHP command line, because the web server provides key information, such as the host name, that will otherwise be missing. The easiest tool for sending an HTTP request to cron.php is wget (http://www.gnu.org/ software/wget/wget.html). To find out if you have wget available, issue the following command: # whereis wget If it is installed, you will see a line like this: wget: /usr/bin/wget You can test that you have permissions to use it by issuing a command like this: # wget -S --spider drupal.org -S tells wget to print the output to the console, and --spider tells wget not to retrieve the response, just the headers. The result should look like this: # wget -S --spider drupal.org --16:53:14-- http://drupal.org/ => `index.html' Resolving drupal.org... 217.67.229.126 Connecting to drupal.org|217.67.229.126|:80... connected. HTTP request sent, awaiting response... HTTP/1.1 200 OK [...] If you have gotten this far, wget is the best tool for you. You will most likely be able to use cron and wget to access cron.php in your Drupal installation. Here is the command to use to have wget call cron.php in the appropriate way: /usr/bin/wget -q -O /dev/null http://www.yoursite.com/cron.php
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The /usr/bin/wget part needs to be modified to match what was returned by the whereis wget command. The -q flag tells wget to be quiet (not to output its activities and status). The -O flag tells it to send whatever headers and output come from the web site to the destination that follows. In this case, the destination is /dev/null, which means the output will be discarded. Finally comes the correct URL to your cron.php file. Test the command in your shell, and then confirm from your Watchdog logs (Drupal path admin) that cron.php has actually run. If all is well, you will see the message Cron run completed. If you haven t had any success with wget, you can explore using the cron-lynx.sh or cron-curl.sh scripts in your Drupal s scripts directory. These depend on the lynx and curl programs, respectively. Refer to Drupal.org (http://drupal.org/node/23714) for further instructions. Alternatively, you might want to explore using a free web-based service, such as Webcron (http://www.webcron.org/). After selecting the tool to call cron.php, you need to set up your cron schedule and task. A typical cron schedule looks like this: 30 * * * * The places correspond to minute, hour, day of the month, month, and day of the week, so this command would run at the thirtieth minute of every hour, every day, every month, every week. In other words, once an hour at 30 minutes past the hour. This is very much along the lines of what a typical Drupal site needs. But perhaps your site has more traffic, or uses a cron task to retrieve mail from the mail server to be published to the forums. In that case, you will want to run cron a little more often: */2 * * * * This runs the task every two minutes. Note that the varying parts are separated by a space. The cron task to run is specified after the scheduling part. If you decide to use wget as the program to call cron.php, this is the command: 30 * * * /usr/bin/wget -q -O /dev/null http://www.yoursite.com/cron.php Now you are finally ready to put the command in the crontab file. Use crontab -e, which will open your crontab file and insert the full command on a new line at the end. That should do the trick! Refer to cron s documentation (http://www.unixgeeks.org/security/newbie/ unix/cron-1.html) for more complete information.
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