Bug 259265 - PERIODIC DAILY script errors (under certain circumstances)
Summary: PERIODIC DAILY script errors (under certain circumstances)
Status: New
Alias: None
Product: Base System
Classification: Unclassified
Component: bin (show other bugs)
Version: 13.0-STABLE
Hardware: Any Any
: --- Affects Many People
Assignee: freebsd-bugs (Nobody)
Depends on:
Reported: 2021-10-19 10:55 UTC by Ian
Modified: 2021-10-19 10:57 UTC (History)
0 users

See Also:

patched version of periodic with correct path (4.20 KB, application/x-shellscript)
2021-10-19 10:55 UTC, Ian
no flags Details
patch for path of mail (173 bytes, patch)
2021-10-19 10:57 UTC, Ian
no flags Details | Diff

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Description Ian 2021-10-19 10:55:26 UTC
Created attachment 228831 [details]
patched version of periodic with correct path


- Running FreeBSD 13.0

uname -a 
FreeBSD frodo 13.0-RELEASE FreeBSD 13.0-RELEASE #0 releng/13.0-n244733-ea31abc261f: Fri Apr  9 04:24:09 UTC 2021     root@releng1.nyi.freebsd.org:/usr/obj/usr/src/amd64.amd64/sys/GENERIC  amd64

- GNU mailutils installed (either explicitly or as in my case as a by-product of installing another tool).


I am using the unmodified daily script shipped with 13.0-release


Something I noticed recently that my periodic daily script wasn't running properly as I was getting mail complaining about the -s flag.

It was working after original install but now complains despite not touching the script.


1. Install Freebsd 13.0-release
2. Check periodic daily can be run with 'sudo periodic daily'
3. Install emacs with 'sudo pkg install emacs-nox'
4. Check periodic daily can be run with 'sudo periodic daily'

Example test run: 

ian@frodo:/etc $ sudo periodic daily
mail: Unknown command: -s

This works without error if you pkg remove emacs-nox, change the path to use /usr/bin before /usr/local/bin or as I noticed it I switched to csh which I have a different path order in $PATH


The 'bug' [not really a bug but more of an oversight] is that GNU mail from mailutils doesn't like the -s flag in line 24

I think this is because GNU mail is interpreting the -E flag differently.

Some may argue that /usr/local/bin should come after /usr/bin but there are valid reasons for a user to place /usr/local/bin prior to /usr/bin in their path (eg deliberately overriding the internal tools). 

It is better to be explicit where there is a chance of both BSD and GNU tools being installed particularly when using switches that aren't cross compatible


give the full path to the BSD mail tool so that the user's environment doesn't override and mess up the script.

As emacs-nox installs the gnu mailtutils with GNU's own mail util it will depend on the user's environment variable as to which mail tool is run.

Using the full path (patch below) will ensure that FreeBSD uses it's own tool and prevents GNU from messing up the system.


root@frodo:/usr/sbin # diff -u periodic periodic_fixed
--- periodic    2021-10-19 11:15:24.731207000 +0100
+++ periodic_fixed      2021-10-19 11:15:18.282797000 +0100
@@ -21,7 +21,7 @@
     case "$output" in
     /*) pipe="cat >>$output";;
     "") pipe=cat;;
-    *)  pipe="mail -E -s '$host ${2}${2:+ }${1##*/} run output' $output";;
+    *)  pipe="/usr/bin/mail -E -s '$host ${2}${2:+ }${1##*/} run output' $output";;
     eval $pipe

Comment 1 Ian 2021-10-19 10:57:59 UTC
Created attachment 228832 [details]
patch for path of mail