Systemd is an init system used by several common Linux Distributions which has gained popularity since 2015. A Linux init system is the first process or daemon started on a system after the initial boot process, and manages services, daemons, and other system processes. Systemd is composed of unit files that contain the initialization instructions for the daemons which it controls. While many portions of a system can be managed with systemd, this article will focus on managing services.
How to Manage a Linux Server with systemd
To control services with systemd, the systemctl command is used. Let’s go over how to start, stop, restart, enable and disable, and check the status of a service. We’ll use the Apache Service, known as httpd on RedHat Based Linux distributions as an example.
This will only start a service one time, if you want the service to be started on boot, see the “Enable on Boot” command below.
systemctl start httpd
This will only stop a service one time, if you want the service to not be restarted on boot, see the Disable on Boot command below.
systemctl stop httpd
Fully stops and starts a service.
systemctl restart httpd
Reloads a service’s configuration without causing the service to restart. Not all services accept that reload command.
systemctl reload httpd
Enable on Boot
This will set the specified service to start up every time a system is booted up.
systemctl enable httpd
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/httpd.service to /etc/systemd/system/httpd.service.
Disable on Boot
This will set the specified service to not start up every time a system is booted up.
systemctl disable httpd
Removed symlink /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/httpd.service.
systemctl status httpd
● httpd.service - Apache web server managed by cPanel EasyApache Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/httpd.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled) Active: active (running) since Fri 2018-01-26 13:32:15 EST; 20h ago Main PID: 2988 (httpd) CGroup: /system.slice/httpd.service ├─ 2988 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start ├─30142 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start ├─30143 /usr/local/cpanel/3rdparty/bin/perl /usr/local/cpanel/bin/leech... ├─30144 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start ├─30145 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start ├─30219 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start ├─30220 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start └─30221 /usr/sbin/httpd -k start Jan 26 13:32:15 test.example.com systemd: Starting Apache web server managed .... Jan 26 13:32:15 test.example.com systemd: PID file /run/apache2/httpd.pid not.... Jan 26 13:32:15 test.example.com systemd: Started Apache web server managed b.... Hint: Some lines were ellipsized, use -l to show in full.
One of the main points of this output are the third line, in this case showing Active: active (running), this shows that the service is presently started and active.
More information on using systemctl, and other portions of systemd can be found in several Linux manual pages, primarily systemctl(1).
Here’s a short example of the command to view the manual page, and the first few lines of that page.
man 1 systemctl
SYSTEMCTL(1) systemctl SYSTEMCTL(1) NAME systemctl - Control the systemd system and service manager SYNOPSIS systemctl [OPTIONS...] COMMAND [NAME...] DESCRIPTION systemctl may be used to introspect and control the state of the "systemd" system and service manager. Please refer to systemd(1) for an introduction into the basic concepts and functionality this tool manages.
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