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systemd Notes

Date: Mon Oct 1 12:55:38 EDT 2018

Some notes on systemd:

  • systemd is an init system that aims to provide better boot time (through parallelization) and a better way to manage services and processes.
  • all services on a Linux system are assigned a control group (cgroup). This will be important for when we install web services (servers) on our systems.
  • on killing services: the problem with previous init is that sometimes child processes do not die when you close parent processes. E.g., something like this may not kill all http processes:
killall httpd
  • but because of cgroups, kill is thorough and all child processes die and are not be reassigned a new PID.
  • to do this, systemd places all process in control groups: cgroups. These groups are named after their processes. Services include the likes of httpd for web services, sshd for ssh services, mysqld for mysql services, and so forth. When a process, like httpd, spawns a new process, that new sub-process remains in the control group.
systemctl kill httpd.service

Traditionally, we might use the ps command to view processes:

ps xaf 
# show systemd info
ps xawf -eo pid,user,cgroups,args

Instead of the above command, we can use the following. This shows the cgroup hierarchy in a tree format:


journalctl replaces /var/log/messages from the SysV init world. To view journal entries, simply type:


If you tab tab after typing journalctl, command line completion will provide additional options (see man page: man 7 systemd.journal-fields and see man man for numbering options). For example:

journalctl _UID=1000

The above shows journal entries related to userid of 1000, which is my user id. We can see all user IDs by concatenating (cat) the passwd file. Here I look at journal entries for chronyd, with a userid of 992. This is a service that manages the system's time:

cat /etc/passwd
journalctl _UID=992

Various useful commands: see:

man systemctl
# list units in memory 
systemctl list-units

# list sockets in memory
systemctl list-sockets

# get status, start, stop, reload, restart a unit, e.g., sshd
systemctl status sshd.service
systemctl start sshd.service
systemctl stop sshd.service
systemctl reload sshd.service
systemctl restart sshd.service
systemctl reload-or-restart sshd.service

# enable, disable sshd 
systemctl enable sshd.service
systemctl disable sshd.service

# ask systemctl if enabled
systemctl is-enabled sshd.service

# System: reboot, poweroff, or suspend
systemctl reboot
systemctl poweroff
systemctl suspend

# to show changes to the system

# to list control groups and processes

# to list real-time control group process, resource usage, and memory usage

# instead of grepping for failed processes/services:
systemctl --state failed

# to list services
systemctl list-unit-files -t service

# to change resource usage for the sshd service, where 1024 is the default:
systemctl set-property --runtime sshd CPUShares=1200

# to examine boot time:

# list logs

# list logs from a specified boot
journalctl -b

# like tail -- follow in real-time
journalctl -f

# show logs for specific systemd unit
journalctl -u sshd.service
linux/systemd.txt · Last modified: 2019/01/21 11:16 by seanburns