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systemd System and Session Manager


systemd is a replacement for SysVinit and Upstart that acts as a system and session manager.


Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 15
  • Last updated: 2010-10-19
  • Percentage of completion: 100%
  • Systemd is currently in Rawhide, and the default
  • Patches for various packages have been merged upstream and already found there way into F14 (dbus, udev, avahi, rtkit). Socket activation support that would be nice to have is still missing for rsyslog (merged), rpcbind (submitted upstream, partly merged), cups (not submitted yet).

Detailed Description

  • What is systemd? To quote the homepage: "systemd is a system and session manager for Linux, compatible with SysV and LSB init scripts. systemd provides aggressive parallelization capabilities, uses socket and D-Bus activation for starting services, offers on-demand starting of daemons, keeps track of processes using Linux cgroups, supports snapshotting and restoring of the system state, maintains mount and automount points and implements an elaborate transactional dependency-based service control logic. It can work as a drop-in replacement for sysvinit."
  • The plan is to test it thoroughly and make it the default for Fedora 15, replacing the current default, upstart. The more daemons we can update to ship native service files the better. The remaining software can continue to include the sysv init scripts and systemd is compatible with them.
  • Instead of bash scripts, systemd uses .service files
  • systemd sorts all daemons into their own Linux cgroups, which you may explore beneath /cgroup/systemd in the file system hierarchy.
  • systemd's focus is about making the best of Linux and using its features as well as possible. systemd is not intended to be portable. This opens up numerous new possibilities.

Benefit to Fedora

Fedora <= 14 uses Upstart in SysV compatibility mode. systemd is a overall better design as detailed in We hope to reap the benefits of it by leading in distribution integration and including it by default.

Note that in the long run systemd will provide quicker boot up, but completing that will take more work, since some additional changes to our early boot-up need to take place such as splitting up rc.sysinit. However the focus of systemd is primarily doing things right, and not exclusively on speed.


Requires building packages for systemd (DONE: ), and taking advantage of it in a dozen or so desktop daemons that will benefit from systemd the most at present and make it default for Fedora 14.

Test Plan

  1. Boot the system, make sure all services come up.
  2. Shutdown and ensure that everything is shut down properly.
  3. Check the various admin tools such as systemctl, systemd-cgls, systemadm, ps and so on.
  4. Verify that all services are properly put in seperate control groups (systemd-cgls is your friend)
  5. Verify that "systemctl list-units" shows that all units are in a reasonable state after bootup. (i.e. no red color in the output!)
  6. Play around with "", "", "" and suchlike on the kernel command like and switching between the targets via "systemctl isolate".
  7. Try the following kernel command line options:
    1. (which gives you something very similar to passing init=/bin/sh but with the option to boot the full system from there)
    2. (similar, but is mostly equivalent to booting into single user mode on sysv)
    3. (to boot only non-graphical stuff)
    4. (to boot the normal graphical stuff, the default)

User Experience

The user should notice a slightly faster bootup, particularly on SSD.

The administrative features of the init system are considerably extended. (for more details see the aforementioned blog post, in particular the "A short list of other features:" part.

Native systemd service configuration files are much easier to understand and configure compared to sysvinit scripts


  • Successful Fedora Package review and addition to rawhide: DONE
  • systemd upstream currently lacks three features that we need before Fedora 15:
    • proper support for selinux (needs policy changes, and we want to move the policy setup in systemd, not in the initrd). DONE: Latest selinux policy update include changes for systemd.
    • We need sysv compatible implementations for /bin/reboot, /bin/shutdown and friends. We currently simply use the implementations upstart provides which work fine, but of course are suboptimal as soon as we want to replace upstart completely. DONE
    • complete set of man pages (parts are already documented, this is far from complete however). DONE
  • The readahead packages need to be adapted for systemd. readahead is currently one of the very few packages using upstart specific features and hence is not activated when booting with systemd. However, due to the more aggressive parallelization, disk access is much more random when systemd is used and hence the effect of readahead considerable. Or to put it the other way round: unless we have readahead systemd won't perform any better than upstart/sysv during bootup on rotating media. On SSD systemd is considerably faster though in every case as readahead is not necessary there. DONE: systemd now includes its own minimal readahead implementation
  • A number of daemons should provide native systemd .service files in addition to sysv init scripts. I have service files for almost all standard F14 services ready, which just need to be added to the rpms. (MOSTLY DONE)
  • A number of daemons should be patched for socket activation: rsyslog (UPSTREAM MERGED), dbus (DONE), portmap (PENDING), avahi (DONE), cups. These patches exist (and are public) and should have upstreamable quality, but they need to be reviewed and added to the rpms.
  • A number of daemons should ship changed bus activation files to hook them up to systemd for activation (single-line change per package)

Contingency Plan

  • Revert back to ship the current Upstart package, and offer systemd just as an alternative.


Release Notes

Fedora 15 has replaced Upstart with systemd. systemd uses services files located in /lib/systemd/system for services, and /etc/systemd/system for configuration. A dozen desktop daemons [list them] have been initially converted to use systemd service files and small number of programs have been patched to take advantage of it. systemd is compatible with legacy SysV init scripts and rest of the migration will happen incrementally over time.

we need to include Systemd howtos such as

  • How do I change the default runlevel?
  • How do I know the current run level?
  • How to power off the machine ?