# Time Scheduling for Job Execution¶

Jobs may be scheduled to begin execution at a specified time in the future with HTCondor’s job deferral functionality. All specifications are in a job’s submit description file. Job deferral functionality is expanded to provide for the periodic execution of a job, known as the CronTab scheduling.

## Job Deferral¶

Job deferral allows the specification of the exact date and time at which a job is to begin executing. HTCondor attempts to match the job to an execution machine just like any other job, however, the job will wait until the exact time to begin execution. A user can define the job to allow some flexibility in the execution of jobs that miss their execution time.

### Deferred Execution Time¶

A job’s deferral time is the exact time that HTCondor should attempt to execute the job. The deferral time attribute is defined as an expression that evaluates to a Unix Epoch timestamp (the number of seconds elapsed since 00:00:00 on January 1, 1970, Coordinated Universal Time). This is the time that HTCondor will begin to execute the job.

After a job is matched and all of its files have been transferred to an execution machine, HTCondor checks to see if the job’s ClassAd contains a deferral time. If it does, HTCondor calculates the number of seconds between the execution machine’s current system time and the job’s deferral time. If the deferral time is in the future, the job waits to begin execution. While a job waits, its job ClassAd attribute JobStatus indicates the job is in the Running state. As the deferral time arrives, the job begins to execute. If a job misses its execution time, that is, if the deferral time is in the past, the job is evicted from the execution machine and put on hold in the queue.

The specification of a deferral time does not interfere with HTCondor’s behavior. For example, if a job is waiting to begin execution when a condor_hold command is issued, the job is removed from the execution machine and is put on hold. If a job is waiting to begin execution when a condor_suspend command is issued, the job continues to wait. When the deferral time arrives, HTCondor begins execution for the job, but immediately suspends it.

The deferral time is specified in the job’s submit description file with the command deferral_time .

### Deferral Window¶

If a job arrives at its execution machine after the deferral time has passed, the job is evicted from the machine and put on hold in the job queue. This may occur, for example, because the transfer of needed files took too long due to a slow network connection. A deferral window permits the execution of a job that misses its deferral time by specifying a window of time within which the job may begin.

The deferral window is the number of seconds after the deferral time, within which the job may begin. When a job arrives too late, HTCondor calculates the difference in seconds between the execution machine’s current time and the job’s deferral time. If this difference is less than or equal to the deferral window, the job immediately begins execution. If this difference is greater than the deferral window, the job is evicted from the execution machine and is put on hold in the job queue.

The deferral window is specified in the job’s submit description file with the command deferral_window .

### Preparation Time¶

When a job defines a deferral time far in the future and then is matched to an execution machine, potential computation cycles are lost because the deferred job has claimed the machine, but is not actually executing. Other jobs could execute during the interval when the job waits for its deferral time. To make use of the wasted time, a job defines a deferral_prep_time with an integer expression that evaluates to a number of seconds. At this number of seconds before the deferral time, the job may be matched with a machine.

### Deferral Usage Examples¶

Here are examples of how the job deferral time, deferral window, and the preparation time may be used.

The job’s submit description file specifies that the job is to begin execution on January 1st, 2006 at 12:00 pm:

deferral_time = 1136138400


The Unix date program may be used to calculate a Unix epoch time. The syntax of the command to do this depends on the options provided within that flavor of Unix. In some, it appears as

%  date --date "MM/DD/YYYY HH:MM:SS" +%s


and in others, it appears as

%  date -d "YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS" +%s


MM is a 2-digit month number, DD is a 2-digit day of the month number, and YYYY is a 4-digit year. HH is the 2-digit hour of the day, MM is the 2-digit minute of the hour, and SS are the 2-digit seconds within the minute. The characters +%s tell the date program to give the output as a Unix epoch time.

The job always waits 60 seconds after submission before beginning execution:

deferral_time = (QDate + 60)


In this example, assume that the deferral time is 45 seconds in the past as the job is available. The job begins execution, because 75 seconds remain in the deferral window:

deferral_window = 120


In this example, a job is scheduled to execute far in the future, on January 1st, 2010 at 12:00 pm. The deferral_prep_time attribute delays the job from being matched until 60 seconds before the job is to begin execution.

deferral_time      = 1262368800
deferral_prep_time = 60


### Deferral Limitations¶

There are some limitations to HTCondor’s job deferral feature.

• Job deferral is not available for scheduler universe jobs. A scheduler universe job defining the deferral_time produces a fatal error when submitted.
• The time that the job begins to execute is based on the execution machine’s system clock, and not the submission machine’s system clock. Be mindful of the ramifications when the two clocks show dramatically different times.
• A job’s JobStatus attribute is always in the Running state when job deferral is used. There is currently no way to distinguish between a job that is executing and a job that is waiting for its deferral time.

## CronTab Scheduling¶

HTCondor’s CronTab scheduling functionality allows jobs to be scheduled to execute periodically. A job’s execution schedule is defined by commands within the submit description file. The notation is much like that used by the Unix cron daemon. As such, HTCondor developers are fond of referring to CronTab scheduling as Crondor. The scheduling of jobs using HTCondor’s CronTab feature calculates and utilizes the DeferralTime ClassAd attribute.

Also, unlike the Unix cron daemon, HTCondor never runs more than one instance of a job at the same time.

The capability for repetitive or periodic execution of the job is enabled by specifying an on_exit_remove command for the job, such that the job does not leave the queue until desired.

### Semantics for CronTab Specification¶

A job’s execution schedule is defined by a set of specifications within the submit description file. HTCondor uses these to calculate a DeferralTime for the job.

Table 2.3 lists the submit commands and acceptable values for these commands. At least one of these must be defined in order for HTCondor to calculate a DeferralTime for the job. Once one CronTab value is defined, the default for all the others uses all the values in the allowed values ranges.

 cron_minute 0 - 59 cron_hour 0 - 23 cron_day_of_month 1 - 31 cron_month 1 - 12 cron_day_of_week 0 - 7 (Sunday is 0 or 7)

Table 2.3: The list of submit commands and their value ranges.

The day of a job’s execution can be specified by both the cron_day_of_month and the cron_day_of_week attributes. The day will be the logical or of both.

The semantics allow more than one value to be specified by using the * operator, ranges, lists, and steps (strides) within ranges.

The asterisk operator

The * (asterisk) operator specifies that all of the allowed values are used for scheduling. For example,

cron_month = *


becomes any and all of the list of possible months: (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12). Thus, a job runs any month in the year.

Ranges

A range creates a set of integers from all the allowed values between two integers separated by a hyphen. The specified range is inclusive, and the integer to the left of the hyphen must be less than the right hand integer. For example,

cron_hour = 0-4


represents the set of hours from 12:00 am (midnight) to 4:00 am, or (0,1,2,3,4).

Lists

A list is the union of the values or ranges separated by commas. Multiple entries of the same value are ignored. For example,

cron_minute = 15,20,25,30
cron_hour   = 0-3,9-12,15


where this cron_minute example represents (15,20,25,30) and cron_hour represents (0,1,2,3,9,10,11,12,15).

Steps

Steps select specific numbers from a range, based on an interval. A step is specified by appending a range or the asterisk operator with a slash character (/), followed by an integer value. For example,

cron_minute = 10-30/5
cron_hour = */3


where this cron_minute example specifies every five minutes within the specified range to represent (10,15,20,25,30), and cron_hour specifies every three hours of the day to represent (0,3,6,9,12,15,18,21).

### Preparation Time and Execution Window¶

The cron_prep_time command is analogous to the deferral time’s deferral_prep_time command. It specifies the number of seconds before the deferral time that the job is to be matched and sent to the execution machine. This permits HTCondor to make necessary preparations before the deferral time occurs.

Consider the submit description file example that includes

cron_minute = 0
cron_hour = *
cron_prep_time = 300


The job is scheduled to begin execution at the top of every hour. Note that the setting of cron_hour in this example is not required, as the default value will be *, specifying any and every hour of the day. The job will be matched and sent to an execution machine no more than five minutes before the next deferral time. For example, if a job is submitted at 9:30am, then the next deferral time will be calculated to be 10:00am. HTCondor may attempt to match the job to a machine and send the job once it is 9:55am.

As the CronTab scheduling calculates and uses deferral time, jobs may also make use of the deferral window. The submit command cron_window is analogous to the submit command deferral_window . Consider the submit description file example that includes

cron_minute = 0
cron_hour = *
cron_window = 360


As the previous example, the job is scheduled to begin execution at the top of every hour. Yet with no preparation time, the job is likely to miss its deferral time. The 6-minute window allows the job to begin execution, as long as it arrives and can begin within 6 minutes of the deferral time, as seen by the time kept on the execution machine.

### Scheduling¶

When a job using the CronTab functionality is submitted to HTCondor, use of at least one of the submit description file commands beginning with cron_ causes HTCondor to calculate and set a deferral time for when the job should run. A deferral time is determined based on the current time rounded later in time to the next minute. The deferral time is the job’s DeferralTime attribute. A new deferral time is calculated when the job first enters the job queue, when the job is re-queued, or when the job is released from the hold state. New deferral times for all jobs in the job queue using the CronTab functionality are recalculated when a condor_reconfig or a condor_restart command that affects the job queue is issued.

A job’s deferral time is not always the same time that a job will receive a match and be sent to the execution machine. This is because HTCondor operates on the job queue at times that are independent of job events, such as when job execution completes. Therefore, HTCondor may operate on the job queue just after a job’s deferral time states that it is to begin execution. HTCondor attempts to start a job when the following pseudo-code boolean expression evaluates to True:

( time() + SCHEDD_INTERVAL ) >= ( DeferralTime - CronPrepTime )


If the time() plus the number of seconds until the next time HTCondor checks the job queue is greater than or equal to the time that the job should be submitted to the execution machine, then the job is to be matched and sent now.

Jobs using the CronTab functionality are not automatically re-queued by HTCondor after their execution is complete. The submit description file for a job must specify an appropriate on_exit_remove command to ensure that a job remains in the queue. This job maintains its original ClusterId and ProcId.

### Submit Commands Usage Examples¶

Here are some examples of the submit commands necessary to schedule jobs to run at multifarious times. Please note that it is not necessary to explicitly define each attribute; the default value is *.

Run 23 minutes after every two hours, every day of the week:

on_exit_remove = false
cron_minute = 23
cron_hour = 0-23/2
cron_day_of_month = *
cron_month = *
cron_day_of_week = *


Run at 10:30pm on each of May 10th to May 20th, as well as every remaining Monday within the month of May:

on_exit_remove = false
cron_minute = 30
cron_hour = 20
cron_day_of_month = 10-20
cron_month = 5
cron_day_of_week = 2


Run every 10 minutes and every 6 minutes before noon on January 18th with a 2-minute preparation time:

on_exit_remove = false
cron_minute = */10,*/6
cron_hour = 0-11
cron_day_of_month = 18
cron_month = 1
cron_day_of_week = *
cron_prep_time = 120


### Submit Commands Limitations¶

The use of the CronTab functionality has all of the same limitations of deferral times, because the mechanism is based upon deferral times.

• It is impossible to schedule vanilla and standard universe jobs at intervals that are smaller than the interval at which HTCondor evaluates jobs. This interval is determined by the configuration variable SCHEDD_INTERVAL . As a vanilla or standard universe job completes execution and is placed back into the job queue, it may not be placed in the idle state in time. This problem does not afflict local universe jobs.
• HTCondor cannot guarantee that a job will be matched in order to make its scheduled deferral time. A job must be matched with an execution machine just as any other HTCondor job; if HTCondor is unable to find a match, then the job will miss its chance for executing and must wait for the next execution time specified by the CronTab schedule.