How to Enable or Disable Services on Boot in Linux Using chkconfig and systemctl Command

It’s a important topic for Linux admin (such a wonderful topic) so, everyone must be aware of this and practice how to use this in the efficient way.

In Linux, whenever we install any packages which has services or daemons. By default all the services “init & systemd” scripts will be added into it but it wont enabled.

Hence, we need to enable or disable the service manually if it’s required. There are three major init systems are available in Linux which are very famous and still in use.

What is init System?

In Linux/Unix based operating systems, init (short for initialization) is the first process that started during the system boot up by the kernel.

It’s holding a process id (PID) of 1. It will be running in the background continuously until the system is shut down.

Init looks at the /etc/inittab file to decide the Linux run level then it starts all other processes & applications in the background as per the run level.

BIOS, MBR, GRUB and Kernel processes were kicked up before hitting init process as part of Linux booting process.

Below are the available run levels for Linux (There are seven runlevels exist, from zero to six).

  • 0: halt
  • 1: Single user mode
  • 2: Multiuser, without NFS
  • 3: Full multiuser mode
  • 4: Unused
  • 5: X11 (GUI – Graphical User Interface)
  • : reboot

Below three init systems are widely used in Linux.

  • System V (Sys V)
  • Upstart
  • systemd

What is System V (Sys V)?

System V (Sys V) is one of the first and traditional init system for Unix like operating system. init is the first process that started during the system boot up by the kernel and it’s a parent process for everything.

Most of the Linux distributions started using traditional init system called System V (Sys V) first. Over the years, several replacement init systems were released to address design limitations in the standard versions such as launchd, the Service Management Facility, systemd and Upstart.

But systemd has been adopted by several major Linux distributions over the traditional SysV init systems.

What is Upstart?

Upstart is an event-based replacement for the /sbin/init daemon which handles starting of tasks and services during boot, stopping them during shutdown and supervising them while the system is running.

It was originally developed for the Ubuntu distribution, but is intended to be suitable for deployment in all Linux distributions as a replacement for the venerable System-V init.

It was used in Ubuntu from 9.10 to Ubuntu 14.10 & RHEL 6 based systems after that they are replaced with systemd.

What is systemd?

Systemd is a new init system and system manager which was implemented/adapted into all the major Linux distributions over the traditional SysV init systems.

systemd is compatible with SysV and LSB init scripts. It can work as a drop-in replacement for sysvinit system. systemd is the first process get started by kernel and holding PID 1.

It’s a parant process for everything and Fedora 15 is the first distribution which was adapted systemd instead of upstart. systemctl is command line utility and primary tool to manage the systemd daemons/services such as (start, restart, stop, enable, disable, reload & status).

systemd uses .service files Instead of bash scripts (SysVinit uses). systemd sorts all daemons into their own Linux cgroups and you can see the system hierarchy by exploring /cgroup/systemd file.

How to Enable or Disable Services on Boot Using chkconfig Commmand?

The chkconfig utility is a command-line tool that allows you to specify in which
runlevel to start a selected service, as well as to list all available services along with their current setting.

Also, it will allows us to enable or disable a services from the boot. Make sure you must have superuser privileges (either root or sudo) to use this command.

All the services script are located on /etc/rd.d/init.d.

How to list All Services in run-level

The -–list parameter displays all the services along with their current status (What run-level the services are enabled or disabled).

# chkconfig --list
NetworkManager     0:off    1:off    2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
abrt-ccpp          0:off    1:off    2:off    3:on    4:off    5:on    6:off
abrtd              0:off    1:off    2:off    3:on    4:off    5:on    6:off
acpid              0:off    1:off    2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
atd                0:off    1:off    2:off    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
auditd             0:off    1:off    2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off
.
.

How to check the Status of Specific Service

If you would like to see a particular service status in run-level then use the following format and grep the required service.

In this case, we are going to check the auditd service status in run-level.

# chkconfig --list| grep auditd
auditd             0:off    1:off    2:on    3:on    4:on    5:on    6:off

How to Enable a Particular Service on Run Levels

Use --level parameter to enable a service in the required run-level. In this case, we are going to enable httpd service on run-level 3 and 5.

# chkconfig --level 35 httpd on

How to Disable a Particular Service on Run Levels

Use --level parameter to disable a service in the required run-level. In this case, we are going to enable httpd service on run-level 3 and 5.

# chkconfig --level 35 httpd off

How to Add a new Service to the Startup List

The -–add parameter allows us to add any new service to the startup. By default, it will turn on level 2, 3, 4 and 5 automatically for that service.

# chkconfig --add nagios

How to Remove a Service from Startup List

Use --del parameter to remove the service from the startup list. Here, we are going to remove the Nagios service from the startup list.

# chkconfig --del nagios

How to Enable or Disable Services on Boot Using systemctl Command?

systemctl is command line utility and primary tool to manage the systemd daemons/services such as (start, restart, stop, enable, disable, reload & status).

All the created systemd unit files are located on /etc/systemd/system/.

How to list All Services

Use the following command to list all the services which included enabled and disabled.

# systemctl list-unit-files --type=service
UNIT FILE                                     STATE
arp-ethers.service                            disabled
auditd.service                                enabled
[email protected]                               enabled
blk-availability.service                      disabled
brandbot.service                              static
[email protected]                        static
chrony-wait.service                           disabled
chronyd.service                               enabled
cloud-config.service                          enabled
cloud-final.service                           enabled
cloud-init-local.service                      enabled
cloud-init.service                            enabled
console-getty.service                         disabled
console-shell.service                         disabled
[email protected]                      static
cpupower.service                              disabled
crond.service                                 enabled
.
.
150 unit files listed.

If you would like to see a particular service status then use the following format and grep the required service. In this case, we are going to check the httpd service status.

# systemctl list-unit-files --type=service | grep httpd
httpd.service                                 disabled

How to Enable a Particular Service on boot

Use the following systemctl command format to enable a particular service. To enable a service, it will create a symlink. The same can be found below.

# systemctl enable httpd
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/httpd.service to /usr/lib/systemd/system/httpd.service.

Run the following command to double check whether the services is enabled or not on boot.

# systemctl is-enabled httpd
enabled

How to Disable a Particular Service on boot

Use the following systemctl command format to disable a particular service. When you run the command, it will remove a symlink which was created by you while enabling the service. The same can be found below.

# systemctl disable httpd
Removed symlink /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/httpd.service.

Run the following command to double check whether the services is disabled or not on boot.

# systemctl is-enabled httpd
disabled

How to Check the current run level

Use the following systemctl command to verify which run-level you are in. Still “runlevel” command works with systemd, however runlevels is a legacy concept in systemd so, i would advise you to use systemctl command for all activity.

We are in run-level 3, the same is showing below as multi-user.target.

# systemctl list-units --type=target
UNIT                  LOAD   ACTIVE SUB    DESCRIPTION
basic.target          loaded active active Basic System
cloud-config.target   loaded active active Cloud-config availability
cryptsetup.target     loaded active active Local Encrypted Volumes
getty.target          loaded active active Login Prompts
local-fs-pre.target   loaded active active Local File Systems (Pre)
local-fs.target       loaded active active Local File Systems
multi-user.target     loaded active active Multi-User System
network-online.target loaded active active Network is Online
network-pre.target    loaded active active Network (Pre)
network.target        loaded active active Network
paths.target          loaded active active Paths
remote-fs.target      loaded active active Remote File Systems
slices.target         loaded active active Slices
sockets.target        loaded active active Sockets
swap.target           loaded active active Swap
sysinit.target        loaded active active System Initialization
timers.target         loaded active active Timers

Prakash Subramanian

Prakash Subramanian is a Linux lover and has 3.5+ years of experience in linux server administration with major Linux distribution such as (RHEL, CentOS, Ubuntu). He is currently working as a Senior L2 Linux Server administrator.

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