If the /etc/cron.allow file exists, then you must be listed therein in order to be allowed to use this command. If the /etc/cron.allow file does not exist but the /etc/cron.deny file does exist, then you must not be listed in the /etc/cron.deny file in order to use this command. If neither of these files exists, then depending on site-dependent configuration parameters, only the super user will be allowed to use this command, or all users will be able to use this command. For standard Debian systems, all users may use this command.
If the -u option is given, it specifies the name of the user whose crontab is to be tweaked. If this option is not given, crontab examines "your" crontab, i.e., the crontab of the person executing the command. Note that su(8) can confuse crontab and that if you are running inside of su(8) you should always use the -u option for safety's sake.
The first form of this command is used to install a new crontab from some named file or standard input if the pseudo-filename ``-'' is given.
The -l option causes the current crontab to be displayed on standard output. See the note under DEBIAN SPECIFIC below.
The -r option causes the current crontab to be removed.
The -e option is used to edit the current crontab using the editor specified by the VISUAL or EDITOR environment variables. After you exit from the editor, the modified crontab will be installed automatically. If neither of the environment variables is defined, then the default editor /usr/bin/editor is used.
The -i option modifies the -r option to prompt the user for a 'y/Y' response before actually removing the crontab.
crontab -l | crontab -
non-idempotent -- you keep adding copies of the header. This causes pain to scripts that use sed to edit a crontab. Therefore, the default behaviour of the -l option has been changed to not output such header. You may obtain the original behaviour by setting the environment variable CRONTAB_NOHEADER to 'N', which will cause the crontab -l command to emit the extraneous header.
Paul Vixie <email@example.com>