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Whenever Gem and Capistrano - Specifying the cronjob user

If you are using Capistrano in a project that relies on the Whenever gem to manage your crontab, it will update the crontab of the user that you use for your Capistrano deploys. So if, for example, you’d deploy with the user capistrano and your app runs under the user www-data, you could run into all sorts of trouble, e.g. permissions in case your cronjob creates new files.

Specifying the user under whom the cronjob command should be executed is relatively easy though. This mailing list entry tells us that we should add --user your_user as a parameter to the whenever command. The problem with that is that you don’t execute the command yourself, but the whenever gem’s Capistrano recipe does. So all we need to do is change the whenever_update_flags variable to meet our wishes. First the original line, and after that our modification:

# Old
_cset(:whenever_update_flags) { "--update-crontab #{fetch :whenever_identifier} --set #{fetch :whenever_variables}" }

# New
_cset(:whenever_update_flags) { "--update-crontab #{fetch :whenever_identifier} --set #{fetch :whenever_variables} --user www-data" }

You probably don’t want to change the whenever gem directly, so placing that line anywhere in the deploy.rb file should work just fine.