Schedule reminders with the at command

How to Schedule reminders with the "at" command.

The UNIX at command is a built-in command (usually found in the /usr/bin directory) that allows you to schedule when programs or scripts run. But it can just as well be quickly setup to remind you of important meetings or other scheduling chores. The at command is well explained in the man pages, but let's take a look at this simple application of at that you might not have thought of using.

Open a command prompt and enter the time you wish to be reminded, as follows:

    $ at 14:00

The at prompt will appear, and you can enter a command like xmessage (on Linux, for example).

    at> xmessage –display:0.0 "Remember your 2:15 meeting with the boss."
    at> <EOT>
    warning: commands will be executed using /bin/sh
    job 15 at 2002-11-30 12:35

At the scheduled time the xmessage program opens an X11 display posting your message up to the end of text (EOT). X11 can also do things like recolor your desktop. You can also place the command into your .xinitrc file in your home directory so that it is executed at the beginning of your day.

You might want to have a look at the X11 clock client rclock. It creates the .rclock file in your home directory where you can enter reminder files as simple lines, and can display them on things like the rxvt terminal. For a longer listing of clocks for OpenLinux and X11, go to metalab.unc.edu/pub/Linux/X11/clocks.


Barrie Sosinsky is president of consulting company Sosinsky and Associates (Medfield MA). He has written extensively on a variety of computer topics. His company specializes in custom software (database and Web related), training and technical documentation.


This was first published in November 2002

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