Pragmatism in code

Waxing lyrical about life the universe and everything software related since lunchtime 2006.

Running CRON for JomSocial

To enable your JomSocial site to communicate with it's members you need to set a CRON job up to pop messages off of the mail queue. This is done by calling the following script. ""

Normally this can be easily achieved by adding a cron via cPanel or whatever your flavour of web admin interface happens to be. If, like me, you are running a virtual or dedicated server you might need to add a CRON via the command line.

My particular flavour of linux happens to use the crontab function to run CRON tasks. To add a cron job its simply a case of running the following command

sudo crontab -e

This will invoke the crontab editor which should then display the crontab file which initially is just a bunch of comments.

If you follow the link from the JomSocial mail queue page to their documents page you will notice that they recommend the following commands for adding a CRON task.

For some reason I could get neither of these to work.

Lynx was pretty easy - it wasn't installed, and I didn't particularly want to install it so I decided that wget was the way to go, but try as hard as I could I could not seem to pop any messages off of the mail queue. I tested the commands from the command line but still no go. I verified that the script was working by callling the URL directly in a browser and noticed that the message instantly popped off of the mail queue.

Next I tried to call the local file via php using the following command

/usr/bin/php5 "/var/www/mysite/index.php?option=com_community&task=cron"

The only problem with this approach is that you cannot pass the post vars to the file, so the file runs but ignores the "?option=com_community&task=cron" part. This means that only the index page is returned.

This led me to do a bit of further testing on the wget function. It turns out that this did exactly the same - it worked byt only returned the index page meaning that somehow it was ignoring the post vars. A little digging and I found that I can add an option to specify the post vars by using the  --post-data  option. Cool. Except that also did not work. :(

Interestingly whilst looking for info on the wget function I noticed that most people seemed to favour CURL instead of WGET when coding in PHP, so I thought I'd give it a try from the command line. Guess what. It worked first time.

curl ""

Cool, so now I have a working command, so I have to do is make it work within CRON. First thing is to drop the response. This is easily achieved by routing the output to /dev/null, I also added 2>&1 to reroute any error messages into the land of unicorns. So putting together the whole thing looks like this...

*/5 * * * * curl "" >/dev/null 2>&1

This means that every 5 minutes CURL will call the URL and route the result to /dev/null

I added this line to my crontab file and to test set the interval to run every minute.

In addition to this I also checked that my Joomla email configuration was correct. I am using sendmail so I first checked that sendmail was installed. You can easily do this my issuing the command whereis sendmail If it is installed it will return the location of the sendmail executable.

If sendmail isn't installed, you can easily install it by issuing the following command 

sudo apt-get install sendmail

Next I checked my /etc/hosts file it should look like this: localhost localhost.localdomain HOSTNAME

Where HOSTNAME is the hostname of your server. To find this out you can run the command hostname

With everything set up you can invoke the sendmail configuration utility by running the command  sendmailconfig and answering 'Y' to everything:


Now when I send some test messages I can see them appear on the mail queue as 'pending' then 5 minutes later they magically  change to a green tick and get processed.

Much better then previously when they simply stalled after they got put on the mail queue.




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Tuesday, 25 April 2017
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