Originally published February 27, 2017 @ 1:18 am

Some time ago I was using PDSH to update root crontab on a bunch of servers and ran into what looked like a PDSH-specific bug. The same command that worked just fine when executed locally or via SSH would completely wipe out the crontab file when launched via PDSH. Understandably, one uses PDSH to make changes to many servers simultaneously and the consequences of deleting every root cron job on dozens of servers can be substantial.

Naturally, where possible I restored the missing crontabs from backups. However, not all of the impacted servers had backups. Below is the script I wrote to recover cron job information from the cron log. The limitation of this script is that it calculates average time interval between cron job runs. This works just fine for most cron jobs, except those running on select days of the week or some other odd schedule. So just keep an eye out for weird time intervals (like, every one hour and thirteen minutes): those you may need to adjust manually.

Sample output:

Job ID: 1
Job Last Run: Feb 26 18:33:01
Job Interval: 21600 (sec), or approximately every 0d 6h 0m 0s

Job Command:

/opt/observium/discovery.php -h all >/dev/null 2>&1

----------------------------------------------------------


Job ID: 2
Job Last Run: Feb 26 23:55:01
Job Interval: 300 (sec), or approximately every 0d 0h 5m 0s

Job Command:

/opt/observium/discovery.php -h new >/dev/null 2>&1

----------------------------------------------------------


Job ID: 3
Job Last Run: Feb 26 23:55:01
Job Interval: 300 (sec), or approximately every 0d 0h 5m 0s

Job Command:

/opt/observium/poller-wrapper.py 1 >/dev/null 2>&1

----------------------------------------------------------

And here’s the script (download it here):
#!/bin/bash
# If you accidentally lost your crontab and have no backups, this script
# may help recover crontab entries by analyzing the cron log. You will
# still need to interprete the recovered information and reconstruct
# the cron jobs the best you can.

clear
configure() {
	host=$(hostname -s)					# hostname as it appears in the cron log
	logdir="/var/log"					# directory containing the cron log
	cronlog="${logdir}/cron"			# cron log location
	cronuser="root"						# cron user name
	cron_type="CMD"						# cron log entry type
	exclude_string="sa\/sa|run-parts"	# exclude system cronjobs
	tmpdir="/tmp"						# temp directory
	# -------------------------------------------------------------------
	counter_diff_filename="unique_crons_counter.tmp"
    counter_diff_file="${tmpdir}/${counter_diff_filename}"
}

verify() {
	if [ ! -d "${tmpdir}" ] ; then mkdir -p "${tmpdir}"; fi
	
	if [ ! -r "${cronlog}" ]
	then
		echo "Cron log ${cronlog} not found. Exiting..." ; exit 1
	fi
	
	if [ -z ${host} ]
	then
		echo "Unable to determine host name. Exiting..." ; exit 1
	fi
	
	if [ `grep -c ^${cronuser}: /etc/passwd` -ne 1 ]
	then
		echo "Cron user ${cronuser} not found. Exiting..."
	fi
	
	if [ -f "${counter_diff_file}" ] ; then /bin/rm -f "${counter_diff_file}" ; fi
}

convert_time() {
    num=$1
    min=0 ; hour=0 ; day=0
    if((num>59));then
        ((sec=num%60)) ; ((num=num/60))
        if((num>59))
			then ((min=num%60)) ; ((num=num/60))
            if((num>23))
				then ((hour=num%24)) ; ((day=num/24))
				else ((hour=num))
            fi
			else ((min=num))
        fi
		else ((sec=num))
    fi
    echo "$day"d "$hour"h "$min"m "$sec"s
}

reconstruct() {
	jobid=1
	grep "${host}" "${cronlog}" | grep "(${cronuser})" | grep "${cron_type}" | sed -e 's/CROND\[[0-9]*\]: /\%/gI' | \
	awk -F'%' '{print $NF}' | sed -e "s/(${cronuser}) ${cron_type} (//g" -e 's/)$//g' | sort -u | egrep -v "${exclude_string}" | \
	while read jobname
	do
		if [ `grep -c "(${jobname}" "${cronlog}"` -ge 2 ]
		then
			i=0
			grep "(${jobname}" "${cronlog}" | tail -2 | awk '{print $1" "$2" "$3}' | while read timestamp
			do
				if [ ${i} -eq 0 ]
				then
					previous_timestamp_epoch=$(date -d "${timestamp}" "+%s") ; i=1
				elif [ ${i} -eq 1 ]
				then
					following_timestamp_epoch=$(date -d "${timestamp}" "+%s")
					timestamp_diff_epoch=$(echo "scale=0;${following_timestamp_epoch}-${previous_timestamp_epoch}" | bc -l)
					echo ${timestamp_diff_epoch} > "${counter_diff_file}"
					i=0
				fi
			done
			timediff=`cat "${counter_diff_file}"`
			last_run_timestamp=$(grep "${jobname}" "${cronlog}" | tail -1 | awk '{print $1" "$2" "$3}')
			cat << EOF 
Job ID: ${jobid}
Job Last Run: ${last_run_timestamp}
Job Interval: ${timediff} (sec), or approximately every `convert_time ${timediff}`

Job Command: 

${jobname}

----------------------------------------------------------


EOF
			(( jobid = jobid + 1 ))
		fi
	done
}

# RUNTIME

configure
verify
reconstruct