Automated Shutdown Procedure for Linux

  • These are for notes on automating a shutdown in preparation for a power outage or other outages.
  • The general procedure goes like this:
    1. update motd a day or so before with the timing of the intended shutdown
    2. update cron with the shutdown command a day or so before
    3. if possible/necessary, send email to key users to let them know of the automated shutdown
  • For Solaris/Irix, see SolarisAutomatedShutdownProcedure


  1. ssh as root into the system to be shutdown, or login normally and sudo a new shell
  2. update the motd
# cd /etc
# co -l motd   (this may not work, in which case you can ignore it)
# vi motd
 - add something like:
  March 22, 2005
  ai0 will be shutdown at 4:30am Wednesday, March 23rd,
  for a planned power outage in DC.
# ci -u motd   (then this won't work either)
  1. add the crontab entry:
  • if necessary, set the VISUAL variable for your shell. Most Debian systems will use vi by default.
  • In bash/sh, it can be done like this:
     # bash
     # VISUAL=vi
     # export VISUAL
  • In tcsh, it can be done like this:
     # tcsh
     # setenv VISUAL 'vi'
  1. Then
     # crontab -e
  • and add lines to the end like:
### Temporary additon to handle scheduled power outage (trg 2005-3-20)
30 4 23 3 * /sbin/shutdown -h +5 "System shutdown in 5 min (power outage)"
  • Note in the above: "0 3 23 3 *" = 0 minutes, 3 hours (ie: 3am), 22nd day of any month, 3 - March, * any day of the week

  1. (save and exit - this automatically updates the crontab)

-- TrevorGrove - 23 Mar 2005, based on equivalent Solaris procedures in SolarisAutomatedShutdownProcedure

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Topic revision: r3 - 2006-02-08 - IsaacMorland
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