Good, affordable hardware for running cron jobs?

I’ve started doing a lot with Beeminder + cron jobs, but relying on my work computer doesn’t seem like the right choice since it can be asleep / off, etc. Do you guys have any suggestions as to hardware I could use as a little server to rub these jobs?


  • Can run Python and Bash out of the box
  • Can SSH into it
  • Running a Debian-based OS is a big plus, because package managers & I’m already familiar

Ability to connect it to my WiFi network would be a plus, but Ethernet would work, as well. And I don’t mind using a WiFi adapter.


I might be missing something here, but if not, the raspberry pi could be an option.

  • ARM based
  • Has WIFI out of the box (not sure if every version does, check the specs of the one you’re buying)
  • Raspbian OS which is a debian derivative compiled for arm, maybe some raspi-specific patches, I think?
  • Can obviously SSH into it, run Python and bash, as it’s basically just debian

I think the cheapest version costs $5 if you use your own microSD/power supply (which is just a standard USB port needing the standard 5W usb should be able to provide).

There are many similar such single board computers.


Yeah, I would suggest either a Raspberry Pi, if you want something in your house, otherwise something at Digital Ocean or AWS.


And if you want to go the really-really-cheap-vps route, there’s lowendbox and its forum. Sometimes there’s stuff (without an IPv4 IP) for ridiculously cheap, like $1/month.


I’m not sure why you would want to own the hardware here. AWS Lambda and GCP Cloud Functions both support cron scheduling. You can’t ssh into them but why would you want to?


I vouch for the Raspberry Pi Zero W. It comes with WiFi included which is cheaper than buying the non-wifi version + adding an own USB adapter, it works out of the box, raspbian is debian based, it’s reasonably cheap setting you back something like $15 (the zero without WiFi would be about $10).
It’s tiny and its power consumption is very low (measured by the oh so scientific method of touching the processor after it ran for a while and it’s quite cool).
And there is no recurring costs. Also it’s just cute. I think that last point really sells it :stuck_out_tongue:
Here, this is what it looks like:

There’s a guided text mode assistant which gets your wifi running in no time. It’s Linux easy mode. Also slow mode. But who cares.

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That’s the same one I have! It’s great. I used to run octopi on it, which is not a trivial piece of software. Handled it well enough :slight_smile:

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Just out of curiosity. What kind of things do you automate using cron jobs?

I use it to sync my tagtime tags and provide data for my All-Green goal.

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Currently I’m using it to sync my Harvest entries from my day job to my worktime and su-time goals. Also, I have an All-Green type goal (buffer) that it handles. My bic goal for getting me into the office is handled by a cron job, but I think that will need to stay on my work machine. I’m doing some stuff to sync TaskWarrior with my goals, I think.

The main one I’m wanting to ensure runs consistently is /buffer.

+1 for AWS Lambda/alike. Also a thing to consider is Zapier, which allows you to execute some Python/JS/etc - would potentially simplify a job of integrating with other things.


I’ve recently turned off my web hosted VM in favour of Zapier for running what are effectively just cron and monitoring jobs. Finally switched to one of their paid plans, but it seems to just work.