Services and Daemons - runit

Void uses the runit(8) supervision suite to run system services and daemons.

Some advantages of using runit include:

  • a small code base, making it easier to audit for bugs and security issues.
  • each service is given a clean process state, regardless of how the service was started or restarted: it will be started with the same environment, resource limits, open file descriptors, and controlling terminals.
  • a reliable logging facility for services, where the log service stays up as long as the relevant service is running and possibly writing to the log.

If you don't need a program to be running constantly, but would like it to run at regular intervals, you might like to consider using a cron daemon.

Section Contents

Service Directories

Each service managed by runit has an associated service directory.

A service directory requires only one file: an executable named run, which is expected to exec a process in the foreground.

Optionally, a service directory may contain:

  • an executable named check, which will be run to check whether the service is up and available; it's considered available if check exits with 0.
  • an executable named finish, which will be run on shutdown/process stop.
  • a conf file; this can contain environment variables to be sourced and referenced in run.
  • a directory named log; a pipe will be opened from the output of the run process in the service directory to the input of the run process in the log directory.

When a new service is created, a supervise folder will be automatically created on the first run.

Configuring Services

Most services can take configuration options set by a conf file in the service directory. This allows service customization without modifying the service directory provided by the relevant package.

Check the service file for how to pass configuration parameters. A few services have a field like OPTS="--value ..." in their conf file.

To make more complex customizations, you should edit the service.

Editing Services

To edit a service, first copy its service directory to a different directory name. Otherwise, xbps-install(1) can overwrite the service directory. Then, edit the new service file as needed. Finally, the old service should be stopped and disabled, and the new one should be started.

Managing Services


A runsvdir is a directory in /etc/runit/runsvdir containing enabled services in the form of symlinks to service directories. On a running system, the current runsvdir is accessible via the /var/service symlink.

The runit-void package comes with two runsvdirs, single and default:

Additional runsvdirs can be created in /etc/runit/runsvdir/.

See runsvdir(8) and runsvchdir(8) for further information.

Booting A Different runsvdir

To boot a runsvdir other than default, the name of the desired runsvdir can be added to the kernel command-line. As an example, adding single to the kernel command line will boot the single runsvdir.

Basic Usage

To start, stop, restart or get the status of a service:

# sv up <services>
# sv down <services>
# sv restart <services>
# sv status <services>

The <services> placeholder can be:

  • Service names (service directory names) inside the /var/service/ directory.
  • The full paths to the services.

For example, the following commands show the status of a specific service and of all enabled services:

# sv status dhcpcd
# sv status /var/service/*

See sv(8) for further information.

Enabling Services

Void Linux provides service directories for most daemons in /etc/sv/.

To enable a service on a booted system, create a symlink to the service directory in /var/service/:

# ln -s /etc/sv/<service> /var/service/

If the system is not currently running, the service can be linked directly into the default runsvdir:

# ln -s /etc/sv/<service> /etc/runit/runsvdir/default/

This will automatically start the service. Once a service is linked it will always start on boot and restart if it stops, unless administratively downed.

To prevent a service from starting at boot while allowing runit to manage it, create a file named down in its service directory:

# touch /etc/sv/<service>/down

The down file mechanism also makes it possible to disable services that are enabled by default, such as the agetty(8) services for ttys 1 to 6. This way, package updates which affect these services (in this case, the runit-void package) won't re-enable them.

Disabling Services

To disable a service, remove the symlink from the running runsvdir:

# rm /var/service/<service>

Or, for example, from the default runsvdir, if either the specific runsvdir, or the system, is not currently running:

# rm /etc/runit/runsvdir/default/<service>

Testing Services

To check if a service is working correctly when started by the service supervisor, run it once before fully enabling it:

# touch /etc/sv/<service>/down
# ln -s /etc/sv/<service> /var/service/
# sv once <service>

If everything works, remove the down file to enable the service.