Per-User Services

Sometimes it can be nice to have user-specific runit services. For example, you might want to open an ssh tunnel as the current user, run a virtual machine, or regularly run daemons on your behalf.


The most basic way to do this is to create a system-level service that runs runsvdir(8) as your user, in order to start and monitor the services in a personal services directory. This does have limitations and downsides, though, as per-user services are started at boot and do not have access to things like the user's graphical session or D-Bus session bus.

For example, you could create a service called /etc/sv/runsvdir-<username> with the following run script, which should be executable:


export USER="<username>"
export HOME="/home/<username>"

groups="$(id -Gn "$USER" | tr ' ' ':')"

exec chpst -u "$USER:$groups" runsvdir "$svdir"

In this example chpst(8) is used to start a new runsvdir(8) process as the specified user. chpst(8) does not read groups on its own, but expects the user to list all required groups separated by a :. The id and tr pipe is used to create a list of all the user's groups in a way chpst(8) understands it. Note that we export $USER and $HOME because some user services may not work without them.

The user can then create new services or symlinks to them in the /home/<username>/service directory. To control the services using the sv(8) command, the user can specify the services by path, or by name if the SVDIR environment variable is set to the user's services directory. This is shown in the following examples:

$ sv status ~/service/*
run: /home/duncan/service/gpg-agent: (pid 901) 33102s
run: /home/duncan/service/ssh-agent: (pid 900) 33102s
$ SVDIR=~/service sv restart gpg-agent
ok: run: gpg-agent: (pid 19818) 0s

It may be convenient to export the SVDIR=~/service variable in your shell profile.


Turnstile supports running per-user services that start with the user session using either runit or dinit(8).

If using the runit service backend, user services should be placed in ~/.config/service/.

To ensure that a subset of services are started before login can proceed, these services can be listed in ~/.config/service/turnstile-ready/conf, for example:

core_services="dbus foo"

The turnstile-ready service is created by turnstile on first login.

To give user services access to important environment variables, chpst(8)'s envdir functionality can be used. Inside user services, the convenience variable TURNSTILE_ENV_DIR can be used to refer to this directory.

To make a service aware of these variables, wrap the exec line with chpst -e "$TURNSTILE_ENV_DIR":

exec chpst -e "$TURNSTILE_ENV_DIR" foo

The helper script turnstile-update-runit-env can be used to update variables in this shared envdir:

$ turnstile-update-runit-env DISPLAY XAUTHORITY FOO=bar BAZ=

To run the D-Bus session bus using a turnstile-managed user service:

$ mkdir -p ~/.config/service/dbus
$ ln -s /usr/share/examples/turnstile/ ~/.config/service/dbus/run