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at — execute commands at a later time


at [−m] [−f file] [−q queuename] −t time_arg

at [−m] [−f file] [−q queuename] timespec...

at −r at_job_id...

at −l −q queuename

at −l [at_job_id...]


The at utility shall read commands from standard input and group them together as an at-
job, to be executed at a later time.

The at-job shall be executed in a separate invocation of the shell, running in a separate
process group with no controlling terminal, except that the environment variables, current
working directory, file creation mask, and other implementation-defined execution-time
attributes in effect when the at utility is executed shall be retained and used when the
at-job is executed.

When the at-job is submitted, the at_job_id and scheduled time shall be written to
standard error. The at_job_id is an identifier that shall be a string consisting solely of
alphanumeric characters and the <period> character. The at_job_id shall be assigned by the
system when the job is scheduled such that it uniquely identifies a particular job.

User notification and the processing of the job's standard output and standard error are
described under the −m option.

Users shall be permitted to use at if their name appears in the file at.allow which is
located in an implementation-defined directory. If that file does not exist, the file
at.deny, which is located in an implementation-defined directory, shall be checked to
determine whether the user shall be denied access to at. If neither file exists, only a
process with appropriate privileges shall be allowed to submit a job. If only at.deny
exists and is empty, global usage shall be permitted. The at.allow and at.deny files shall
consist of one user name per line.


The at utility shall conform to the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 12.2,
Utility Syntax Guidelines.

The following options shall be supported:

−f file Specify the pathname of a file to be used as the source of the at-job, instead
of standard input.

−l (The letter ell.) Report all jobs scheduled for the invoking user if no
at_job_id operands are specified. If at_job_ids are specified, report only
information for these jobs. The output shall be written to standard output.

−m Send mail to the invoking user after the at-job has run, announcing its
completion. Standard output and standard error produced by the at-job shall be
mailed to the user as well, unless redirected elsewhere. Mail shall be sent even
if the job produces no output.

If −m is not used, the job's standard output and standard error shall be
provided to the user by means of mail, unless they are redirected elsewhere; if
there is no such output to provide, the implementation need not notify the user
of the job's completion.

−q queuename
Specify in which queue to schedule a job for submission. When used with the −l
option, limit the search to that particular queue. By default, at-jobs shall be
scheduled in queue a. In contrast, queue b shall be reserved for batch jobs;
see batch. The meanings of all other queuenames are implementation-defined. If
−q is specified along with either of the −t time_arg or timespec arguments, the
results are unspecified.

−r Remove the jobs with the specified at_job_id operands that were previously
scheduled by the at utility.

−t time_arg
Submit the job to be run at the time specified by the time option-argument,
which the application shall ensure has the format as specified by the touch −t
time utility.


The following operands shall be supported:

at_job_id The name reported by a previous invocation of the at utility at the time the job
was scheduled.

timespec Submit the job to be run at the date and time specified. All of the timespec
operands are interpreted as if they were separated by <space> characters and
concatenated, and shall be parsed as described in the grammar at the end of this
section. The date and time shall be interpreted as being in the timezone of the
user (as determined by the TZ variable), unless a timezone name appears as part
of time, below.

In the POSIX locale, the following describes the three parts of the time
specification string. All of the values from the LC_TIME categories in the POSIX
locale shall be recognized in a case-insensitive manner.

time The time can be specified as one, two, or four digits. One-digit and
two-digit numbers shall be taken to be hours; four-digit numbers to be
hours and minutes. The time can alternatively be specified as two
numbers separated by a <colon>, meaning hour:minute. An AM/PM
indication (one of the values from the am_pm keywords in the LC_TIME
locale category) can follow the time; otherwise, a 24-hour clock time
shall be understood. A timezone name can also follow to further
qualify the time. The acceptable timezone names are implementation-
defined, except that they shall be case-insensitive and the string utc
is supported to indicate the time is in Coordinated Universal Time.
In the POSIX locale, the time field can also be one of the following

midnight Indicates the time 12:00 am (00:00).

noon Indicates the time 12:00 pm.

now Indicates the current day and time. Invoking at <now> shall
submit an at-job for potentially immediate execution (that
is, subject only to unspecified scheduling delays).

date An optional date can be specified as either a month name (one of the
values from the mon or abmon keywords in the LC_TIME locale category)
followed by a day number (and possibly year number preceded by a
comma), or a day of the week (one of the values from the day or abday
keywords in the LC_TIME locale category). In the POSIX locale, two
special days shall be recognized:

today Indicates the current day.

tomorrow Indicates the day following the current day.

If no date is given, today shall be assumed if the given time is
greater than the current time, and tomorrow shall be assumed if it is
less. If the given month is less than the current month (and no year
is given), next year shall be assumed.

increment The optional increment shall be a number preceded by a <plus-sign>
('+') and suffixed by one of the following: minutes, hours, days,
weeks, months, or years. (The singular forms shall also be accepted.)
The keyword next shall be equivalent to an increment number of +1. For
example, the following are equivalent commands:

at 2pm + 1 week
at 2pm next week

The following grammar describes the precise format of timespec in the POSIX locale. The
general conventions for this style of grammar are described in Section 1.3, Grammar
Conventions. This formal syntax shall take precedence over the preceding text syntax
description. The longest possible token or delimiter shall be recognized at a given point.
When used in a timespec, white space shall also delimit tokens.

%token hr24clock_hr_min
%token hr24clock_hour
An hr24clock_hr_min is a one, two, or four-digit number. A one-digit
or two-digit number constitutes an hr24clock_hour. An hr24clock_hour
may be any of the single digits [0,9], or may be double digits, ranging
from [00,23]. If an hr24clock_hr_min is a four-digit number, the
first two digits shall be a valid hr24clock_hour, while the last two
represent the number of minutes, from [00,59].

%token wallclock_hr_min
%token wallclock_hour
A wallclock_hr_min is a one, two-digit, or four-digit number.
A one-digit or two-digit number constitutes a wallclock_hour.
A wallclock_hour may be any of the single digits [1,9], or may
be double digits, ranging from [01,12]. If a wallclock_hr_min
is a four-digit number, the first two digits shall be a valid
wallclock_hour, while the last two represent the number of
minutes, from [00,59].

%token minute
A minute is a one or two-digit number whose value can be [0,9]
or [00,59].

%token day_number
A day_number is a number in the range appropriate for the particular
month and year specified by month_name and year_number, respectively.
If no year_number is given, the current year is assumed if the given
date and time are later this year. If no year_number is given and
the date and time have already occurred this year and the month is
not the current month, next year is the assumed year.

%token year_number
A year_number is a four-digit number representing the year A.D., in
which the at_job is to be run.

%token inc_number
The inc_number is the number of times the succeeding increment
period is to be added to the specified date and time.

%token timezone_name
The name of an optional timezone suffix to the time field, in an
implementation-defined format.

%token month_name
One of the values from the mon or abmon keywords in the LC_TIME
locale category.

%token day_of_week
One of the values from the day or abday keywords in the LC_TIME
locale category.

%token am_pm
One of the values from the am_pm keyword in the LC_TIME locale

%start timespec
timespec : time
| time date
| time increment
| time date increment
| nowspec

nowspec : "now"
| "now" increment

time : hr24clock_hr_min
| hr24clock_hr_min timezone_name
| hr24clock_hour ":" minute
| hr24clock_hour ":" minute timezone_name
| wallclock_hr_min am_pm
| wallclock_hr_min am_pm timezone_name
| wallclock_hour ":" minute am_pm
| wallclock_hour ":" minute am_pm timezone_name
| "noon"
| "midnight"

date : month_name day_number
| month_name day_number "," year_number
| day_of_week
| "today"
| "tomorrow"

increment : "+" inc_number inc_period
| "next" inc_period

inc_period : "minute" | "minutes"
| "hour" | "hours"
| "day" | "days"
| "week" | "weeks"
| "month" | "months"
| "year" | "years"


The standard input shall be a text file consisting of commands acceptable to the shell
command language described in Chapter 2, Shell Command Language. The standard input shall
only be used if no −f file option is specified.


See the STDIN section.

The text files at.allow and at.deny, which are located in an implementation-defined
directory, shall contain zero or more user names, one per line, of users who are,
respectively, authorized or denied access to the at and batch utilities.


The following environment variables shall affect the execution of at:

LANG Provide a default value for the internationalization variables that are unset or
null. (See the Base Definitions volume of POSIX.1‐2008, Section 8.2,
Internationalization Variables for the precedence of internationalization
variables used to determine the values of locale categories.)

LC_ALL If set to a non-empty string value, override the values of all the other
internationalization variables.

LC_CTYPE Determine the locale for the interpretation of sequences of bytes of text data
as characters (for example, single-byte as opposed to multi-byte characters in
arguments and input files).

Determine the locale that should be used to affect the format and contents of
diagnostic messages written to standard error and informative messages written
to standard output.

NLSPATH Determine the location of message catalogs for the processing of LC_MESSAGES.

LC_TIME Determine the format and contents for date and time strings written and accepted
by at.

SHELL Determine a name of a command interpreter to be used to invoke the at-job. If
the variable is unset or null, sh shall be used. If it is set to a value other
than a name for sh, the implementation shall do one of the following: use that
shell; use sh; use the login shell from the user database; or any of the
preceding accompanied by a warning diagnostic about which was chosen.

TZ Determine the timezone. The job shall be submitted for execution at the time
specified by timespec or −t time relative to the timezone specified by the TZ
variable. If timespec specifies a timezone, it shall override TZ. If timespec
does not specify a timezone and TZ is unset or null, an unspecified default
timezone shall be used.




When standard input is a terminal, prompts of unspecified format for each line of the user
input described in the STDIN section may be written to standard output.

In the POSIX locale, the following shall be written to the standard output for each job
when jobs are listed in response to the −l option:

"%s\t%s\n", at_job_id, <date>

where date shall be equivalent in format to the output of:

date +"%a %b %e %T %Y"

The date and time written shall be adjusted so that they appear in the timezone of the
user (as determined by the TZ variable).


In the POSIX locale, the following shall be written to standard error when a job has been
successfully submitted:

"job %s at %s\n", at_job_id, <date>

where date has the same format as that described in the STDOUT section. Neither this, nor
warning messages concerning the selection of the command interpreter, shall be considered
a diagnostic that changes the exit status.

Diagnostic messages, if any, shall be written to standard error.






The following exit values shall be returned:

0 The at utility successfully submitted, removed, or listed a job or jobs.

>0 An error occurred.


The job shall not be scheduled, removed, or listed.

The following sections are informative.


The format of the at command line shown here is guaranteed only for the POSIX locale.
Other cultures may be supported with substantially different interfaces, although
implementations are encouraged to provide comparable levels of functionality.

Since the commands run in a separate shell invocation, running in a separate process group
with no controlling terminal, open file descriptors, traps, and priority inherited from
the invoking environment are lost.

Some implementations do not allow substitution of different shells using SHELL. System V
systems, for example, have used the login shell value for the user in /etc/passwd. To
select reliably another command interpreter, the user must include it as part of the
script, such as:

$ at 1800
myshell myscript
job ... at ...


1. This sequence can be used at a terminal:

at −m 0730 tomorrow
sort < file >outfile

2. This sequence, which demonstrates redirecting standard error to a pipe, is useful in a
command procedure (the sequence of output redirection specifications is significant):

at now + 1 hour <<!
diff file1 file2 2>&1 >outfile | mailx mygroup

3. To have a job reschedule itself, at can be invoked from within the at-job. For
example, this daily processing script named my.daily runs every day (although crontab
is a more appropriate vehicle for such work):

# my.daily runs every day
daily processing
at now tomorrow < my.daily

4. The spacing of the three portions of the POSIX locale timespec is quite flexible as
long as there are no ambiguities. Examples of various times and operand presentation

at 0815am Jan 24
at 8 :15amjan24
at now "+ 1day"
at 5 pm FRIday
at '17


The at utility reads from standard input the commands to be executed at a later time. It
may be useful to redirect standard output and standard error within the specified

The −t time option was added as a new capability to support an internationalized way of
specifying a time for execution of the submitted job.

Early proposals added a ``jobname'' concept as a way of giving submitted jobs names that
are meaningful to the user submitting them. The historical, system-specified at_job_id
gives no indication of what the job is. Upon further reflection, it was decided that the
benefit of this was not worth the change in historical interface. The at functionality is
useful in simple environments, but in large or complex situations, the functionality
provided by the Batch Services option is more suitable.

The −q option historically has been an undocumented option, used mainly by the batch

The System V −m option was added to provide a method for informing users that an at-job
had completed. Otherwise, users are only informed when output to standard error or
standard output are not redirected.

The behavior of at <now> was changed in an early proposal from being unspecified to
submitting a job for potentially immediate execution. Historical BSD at implementations
support this. Historical System V implementations give an error in that case, but a change
to the System V versions should have no backwards-compatibility ramifications.

On BSD-based systems, a −u user option has allowed those with appropriate privileges to
access the work of other users. Since this is primarily a system administration feature
and is not universally implemented, it has been omitted. Similarly, a specification for
the output format for a user with appropriate privileges viewing the queues of other users
has been omitted.

The −f file option from System V is used instead of the BSD method of using the last
operand as the pathname. The BSD method is ambiguous—does:

at 1200 friday

mean the same thing if there is a file named friday in the current directory?

The at_job_id is composed of a limited character set in historical practice, and it is
mandated here to invalidate systems that might try using characters that require shell
quoting or that could not be easily parsed by shell scripts.

The at utility varies between System V and BSD systems in the way timezones are used. On
System V systems, the TZ variable affects the at-job submission times and the times
displayed for the user. On BSD systems, TZ is not taken into account. The BSD behavior is
easily achieved with the current specification. If the user wishes to have the timezone
default to that of the system, they merely need to issue the at command immediately
following an unsetting or null assignment to TZ. For example:

TZ= at noon ...

gives the desired BSD result.

While the yacc-like grammar specified in the OPERANDS section is lexically unambiguous
with respect to the digit strings, a lexical analyzer would probably be written to look
for and return digit strings in those cases. The parser could then check whether the digit
string returned is a valid day_number, year_number, and so on, based on the context.



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