Cron alarm clock

Surprisingly I found out that there are a lack of alarm clocks in Linux. I’ve tried a few but really was impressed with none. So I decided to go with what the Linux uses for some of it’s timed events: Cron. Cron can be a good alarm and its easy to use.

The program crontab is used to create and edit cron jobs and the cron daemon checks for cronjobs a the top of every minute. A command line mp3 player can be used here but I like use Audacious. Crong will need to be told what X display to play Audacious on to discover the current display:

env | grep DISPLAY

Then as regular user edit crontab:

crontab -e

Here’s the cronjob layout representation:

#   minute (0-59),
#   |   hour (0-23),
#   |   |   day of the month (1-31),
#   |   |   |   month of the year (1-12),
#   |   |   |   |   day of the week (0-6 with 0=Sunday).
#   |   |   |   |   |   commands

Enter the time (multiple times, days need to be separated with commas) and the script to execute for the alarm. The asterik can be used (*) to satisfy all variables. Here’s mine for audacious:

07  21  *   *   1,2,3,4,5   env DISPLAY=:0.0 audacious /home/user/My\ Music/Other/Alarms/301gq.mp3

I found some good alarm tracks at this site the were perfect for the task.

To list the crontab do:

crontab -l 

Additional Information

Other Options


Wmtimer works well for Gnome users it leaves a small window on the screen which can’t be hidden but it is able use the system beep or execute a command on an alarm/timer event. Starting it from the command line is pretty easy:

wmtimer -a -t 18:39:00 -e "mpg321 ~/Music/Other/Alarms/301gq.wav"


Audacious also has alarm ability but it’s buried DeeeEEep in it’s preferences ( Preferences > Plugins > General ).

Alarm Clock

Thats actually its name. Despite the unexciting name, Alarm Clock is a very nice addition. Its a python script for the Gnome desktop that has the ability to run an application, display a message, and to use as a tray icon. Its a good application and easy to install.


Zenity Alert

Zenity is Gnome’s notification program. This won’t get a person out of bed but it can be good for reminders. In crontab enter:

Note: I wasn’t able to get this to work. If anyone can figure it out please let me know.
    23  15  *   *   * env DISPLAY=:0:0 notify-send -i gtk-info "libnotify          example" "An example of libnotify notification thingy."



  • Thanks 2 keyboard cowboy.
  • 8 thoughts on “Cron alarm clock

    1. Pingback: Cron Alarm Clock « Linux T&T

    2. Jack

      Haha, you use a general quarters alarm? Didn’t know anyone else did. It’s *the* sound that gets me going. :P

    3. vevhlos

      I was using cron with clementine and it worked fine. When i switched to audacious (clementine became a feature-bloat as expected) my alarm would never ring! The env DISPLAY=:0.0 did it for me, thanks!
      ps. I use audacious -p so the already open audacious can just start playing. Cheers


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