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See Lennart's blog story for a longer introduction, the two status updates since then, and the most recent summary. Also see the Wikipedia article and the project web page.


To try out systemd on Arch you need to:

  • install systemd (and its dependencies) from [extra]
  • add init=/bin/systemd to your kernel cmdline in your bootloader
Note: If you are using GRUB2, kernel parameters are added in /etc/default/grub - GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="..."
Tip: systemd can be installed side-by-side with the regular Arch Linux initscripts, and they can be toggled by adding/removing the init=/bin/systemd kernel parameter.
  • To take advantage of the systemd way of starting services, you might also want the systemd-arch-units package.
Warning: udev and many other pieces of software expect /usr to be mounted and available at bootup. If your /usr is on a separate partition, you will need to make accommodations to mount it from the initramfs and unmount it from a pivoted root on shutdown. See:

Native systemd configuration files

Add a hostname


Console and keymap settings

The /etc/vconsole.conf file configures the virtual console, i.e. keyboard mapping and console font.


OS info

/etc/os-release contains data that is defined by the operating system vendor and should not be changed by the administrator.


Locale settings

Read man locale.conf for more options


Configure kernel modules to load during boot

systemd uses /etc/modules-load.d/ to configure kernel modules to load during boot in a static list. Each configuration file is named in the style of /etc/modules-load.d/<program>.conf. The configuration files should simply contain a list of kernel module names to load, separated by newlines. Empty lines and lines whose first non-whitespace character is # or ; are ignored. Example:

# Load virtio-net.ko at boot

See also Modprobe#Options

Configure kernel modules blacklist

Systemd uses /etc/modprobe.d/ to configure the blacklisting of kernel modules. Each configuration file is named in the style of /etc/modprobe.d/<program>.conf. Empty lines and lines whose first non-whitespace character is # or ; are ignored. Example:

blacklist snd_hda_intel


install snd_hda_intel /bin/false

See also Modprobe#Blacklisting

Describe temporary files

Systemd-tmpfiles uses the configuration files in /etc/tmpfiles.d/ to describe the creation, cleaning and removal of volatile and temporary files and directories which usually reside in directories such as /run or /tmp. Each configuration file is named in the style of /etc/tmpfiles.d/<program>.conf.

Systemd Journal

Since version 38 systemd has an own logging system, the journal.

By default, running a syslog daemon is no longer required. To read the log, use:

# systemd-journalctl

The systemd-journal writes to /run/systemd/journal, meaning logs will poof on reboot. For non-volatile logs, create /var/log/journal/:

# mkdir /var/log/journal/

Journald in conjunction with a classic syslog daemon

Compatibility with classic syslog implementations is provided via a socket /run/systemd/journal/syslog, to which all messages are forwarded. To make the syslog daemon work with the journal, it has to bind to this socket instead of /dev/log (official announcement). For syslog-ng change /etc/syslog-ng/syslog-ng.conf source section to:

source src {

and enable (or reenable) syslog-ng:

# systemctl enable syslog-ng.service

By default, journald is configured to read from /proc/kmsg, but this will collide with a syslog implementation doing the same (systemd-devel post). Disable reading /proc/kmsg by systemd-journald in /etc/systemd/journald.conf:



Dynamic (DHCP)

If you simply want to use DHCP for your ethernet connection, you can use dhcpcd@.service from the systemd-arch-units package. To enable DHCP for eth0, simply use:

# systemctl start dhcpcd@eth0.service

You can enable the service to automatically start at boot with:

# systemctl enable dhcpcd@.service

Note that this will enable the service for eth0 by default. If you want to use another interface, you have to create the symlink manually, e.g.:

# ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/dhcpcd@.service' '/etc/systemd/system/'

Wireless (netcfg)

To use a wireless network with netcfg, do:

# systemctl enable net-auto-wireless.service

This is synonymous to:

# ln -s /lib/systemd/system/net-auto-wireless.service /etc/systemd/system/

You will also need to enable network.service:

# systemctl enable network.service

This is synonymous to:

# ln -s /usr/lib/systemd/system/network.service /etc/systemd/system/


If you want to use a static configuration, create the following files and change values as needed (see: Configuring_Network#Static_IP_address for more info):

Description=Network Connectivity
ExecStart=/sbin/ip link set dev ${interface} up
ExecStart=/sbin/ip addr add ${address}/${netmask} broadcast ${broadcast} dev ${interface}
ExecStart=/sbin/ip route add default via ${gateway}
ExecStop=/sbin/ip addr flush dev ${interface}
ExecStop=/sbin/ip link set dev ${interface} down


To start the service:

# systemctl start network.service

To start the service automatically at boot:

# systemctl enable network.service

Remote filesystem mounts

If you have NFS mounts listed in /etc/fstab then systemd will attempt to mount them but will typically do so too early (before networking has been configured). To get the timing correct we need to tell systemd explicitly that the mount depends on networking and rpc.statd. To do this, create the following file:

 Description=<mountpoint> rpc-statd.service rpc-statd.service 

In the above:

  • mount-unit-name is the full path to the mountpoint in an escaped format. For example, a mount unit for /usr/local must be named usr-local.mount.
  • mountpoint is the local mountpoint
  • server:share specifies the remote filesystem in the same manner as for /etc/fstab

See systemd.unit(5) and systemd.mount(5) for further details.

A similar approach will probably be required for other remote filesystem types such as nfs4 and cifs.

Alternatively, you can mark these entries in /etc/fstab with the x-systemd-automount and x-systemd-device-timeout=# options (see systemd.mount(5)). Make sure that if you also include defaults as a mount option, that you override the implicit auto with noauto. This will cause the device to be mounted on first access, similar to Autofs.

Using systemd

  • systemctl: used to introspect and control the state of the systemd system and service manager
  • systemd-cgls: recursively shows the contents of the selected Linux control group hierarchy in a tree
  • systemadm: a graphical frontend for the systemd system and service manager that allows introspection and control of systemd (avaiable via the systemd-ui-gitAUR package from the AUR).

View the man pages for more details.

Listing running services:

$ systemctl


$ systemctl list-units

The available services or units can be seen in /lib/systemd/system/, /usr/lib/systemd/system/ and /etc/systemd/system/ (the latter takes precedence).

Activate a service immediately:

# systemctl start <service>

Deactivate a service immediately:

# systemctl stop <service>

Restart a service:

# systemctl restart <service>

Reload the configuration of a service:

# systemctl reload <service>

Show the status of a service, including whether it is running or not:

# systemctl status <service>

Check whether a service is already enabled or not:

# systemctl is-enabled <service>

Enable a service to be started on bootup:

# systemctl enable <service>

Disable a service to not start during bootup:

# systemctl disable <service>

Refer to man systemctl for more details.

Notice that you need to use the full name of a service file. E.g., in order to restart the avahi daemon, issue:

# systemctl restart avahi-daemon.service

Shut down and reboot the system:

# systemctl reboot

Shut down and power-off the system:

# systemctl poweroff

Shut down and halt the system:

# systemctl halt


Runlevels is a legacy concept in systemd. Systemd uses targets which serve a similar purpose as runlevels but act a little different. Each target is named instead of numbered and is intended to serve a specific purpose with the possibility of having multiple ones active at the same time. Some targets are implemented by inheriting all of the services of another target and adding additional services to it. There are systemd targets that mimic the common SystemVinit runlevels so you can still switch targets using the familiar telinit RUNLEVEL command.

Get current runlevel/targets

The following should be used under systemd instead of runlevel:

# systemctl list-units --type=target

Create custom target

The runlevels that are assigned a specific purpose on vanilla Fedora installs; 0, 1, 3, 5, and 6; have a 1:1 mapping with a specific systemd target. Unfortunately, there is no good way to do the same for the user-defined runlevels like 2 and 4. If you make use of those it is suggested that you make a new named systemd target as /etc/systemd/system/<your target> that takes one of the existing runlevels as a base (you can look at /usr/lib/systemd/system/ as an example), make a directory /etc/systemd/system/<your target>.wants, and then symlink the additional services from /lib/systemd/system/ and /usr/lib/systemd/system/ that you wish to enable.

Targets table

SysV Runlevel Systemd Target Notes
0, Halt the system.
1, s, single, Single user mode.
2, 4,, User-defined/Site-specific runlevels. By default, identical to 3.
3, Multi-user, non-graphical. Users can usually login via multiple consoles or via the network.
5, Multi-user, graphical. Usually has all the services of runlevel 3 plus a graphical login.
6, Reboot
emergency Emergency shell

Change current runlevels

In systemd runlevels are exposed via "target units". You can change them like this:

# systemctl isolate

This will only change the current runlevel, and has no effect on the next boot.

Change default runlevel/target to boot into

The standard target is, which is aliased by default to (which roughly corresponds to the old runlevel 5). To change the default target at boot-time, append one of the following kernel parameters to your GRUB kernel line:

  • (which roughly corresponds to the old runlevel 3),
  • (which roughly corresponds to the old runlevel 1).

Alternatively, you may leave the bootloader alone and change This can be done using systemctl:

# systemctl enable

The effect of this command is outputted by systemctl; a symlink to the new default target is made at /etc/systemd/system/ This works if, and only if:


is in the target's configuration file. Currently, and both have it.

Running DEs under systemd

Using display manager

To enable graphical login, run your preferred Display Manager daemon (e.g. KDM). At the moment, service files exist for gdm, kdm and slim, but there is not one for xdm.

# systemctl enable kdm.service

This should work out of the box. If not, you might have a set manually or from a older install:

# ls -l /etc/systemd/system/
/etc/systemd/system/ -> /lib/systemd/system/

Simply delete the symlink and systemd will use its stock (i.e.

# rm /etc/systemd/system/

On KDE start an error message will appear saying "console-kit-daemon.unit" could not be found. To solve this problem, install systemd-arch-units.

If /etc/locale.conf is used for setting the locale, add an entry to /etc/environment:


Using service file

If you are only looking for a simple way to start X directly without a display manager, you can create a service file similar to this:

Description=Direct login to X
After=dev-tty7.device systemd-user-sessions.service

ExecStart=/bin/su <username> -l -c "/bin/bash --login -c xinit"


Arch integration

Integration with Arch's classic configuration is accomplished via the initscripts-systemd package. This is an optional package containing unit files and scripts needed to emulate Arch's initscripts, which can be used to ease the transition from sysVinit to systemd.

/etc/inittab is not used at all.

/etc/rc.local and /etc/rc.local.shutdown can be run at startup and shutdown by enabling rc-local.service.

Warning: Unless you require the functionality from lvm.service or dmraid.service, usage of this package is not recommended. In particular, arch-persistent-settings.service and are unsupported as a long-term solution and will be removed in the future. When ever possible, use native systemd configuration files instead.

Most people will not need all (if any) of these units, and they can be easily disabled with:

# systemctl disable <unitfile>

The plan is to remove most of the functionality from this package as soon as it is handled elsewhere (mostly in udev/systemd/kernel).


Some variables in /etc/rc.conf are respected by this glue work. For a pure systemd setup it is recommended to use the native systemd configuration files (such as /etc/locale.conf, /etc/vconsole.conf, /etc/hostname, /etc/modules-load.d/*.conf) which will take precedence over /etc/rc.conf.

Supported variables:

  • DAEMONS: Ordering and blacklisting is respected, if a native systemd service file by the same name as a daemon exists, it will take precedence, this logic can be disabled by systemctl disable

Not supported variables and systemd configuration:

  • TIMEZONE: Please symlink /etc/localtime to your zoneinfo file manually.
  • HARDWARECLOCK: Use # hwclock --systohc --utc to set your hardware clock to utc, localtime is not supported, see FAQ.
  • USELVM: use lvm.service provided by systemd-arch-units instead.

The following is a brief description of the functionality of each of them. Alternative solutions are provided as a migration plan away from the functionality provided by this package.


Copies Arch's handling of LVM. Only needed if you use non-root LVM. In the future systemd will probably deal with this natively (in a much cleaner and more robust way).


Runs /etc/rc-local (resp., /etc/rc-local.shutdown) on boot (resp., shutdown).

Parses the DAEMONS array in /etc/rc.conf and starts the services. If a native systemd unit exists (by the same name) for a given daemon, this is used; otherwise, the script in /etc/rc.d/ is used to control the unit.

Alternative: use native unit files from the systemd-arch-units package


This is run at shutdown. Its aim is to make sure that any Arch Linux settings are applied on the next boot. In particular:

  • Sets the timezone based on /etc/rc.conf. Alternative: Create /etc/localtime as a symlink to your timezone file in /usr/share/zoneinfo.
  • Updates modle blacklists based on /etc/rc.conf (see /etc/modprobe.d/rc.conf). Alternative: Create a differently named copy of this file in /etc/modprobe.d/.
  • Updates list of modules to be loaded based on /etc/rc.conf (see /etc/modules-load.d/rc.conf). Alternative: create a differently named copy of this file in /etc/modules-load.d/.

Helping out

Currently, systemd is mostly at feature parity with Arch's initscripts. However, a lot more testing is needed. If you would like to help out, you can fork the initscripts-systemd or systemd-arch-units git repos and submit pull requests for your additions.

If you have any questions, ask in the thread in the Arch forums.


For an up-to-date list of known issues, look at the upstream TODO.










Less output

Change verbose to quiet on the kernel line in GRUB. For some systems, particularly those with an SSD, the slow performance of the TTY is actually a bottleneck, and so less output means faster booting.

Early start

One central feature of systemd is dbus and socket activation, this causes services to be started when they are first accessed, and is generally a good thing. However, if you know that a service (like console-kit) will always be started during boot, then the overall boot time might be reduced by starting it as early as possible. This can be achieved (if the service file is set up for it, which in most cases it is) by issuing:

# systemctl enable console-kit-daemon.service

This will cause systemd to start console-kit as soon as possible, without causing races with the socket or dbus activation.


The default setup will fsck and mount all filesystems before starting most daemons and services. If you have a large /home partition, it might be better to allow services that do not depend on /home to start while /home is being fsck'ed. This can be achieved by adding the following options to the fstab entry of your /home partition:


This will fsck and mount /home when it is first accessed, and the kernel will buffer all file access to /home until it is ready.

If you have encrypted filesystems with keyfiles, you can also add the noauto parameter to the corresponding entries in /etc/crypttab. systemd will then not open the encrypted device on boot, but instead wait until it is actually accessed and then automatically open it with the specified keyfile before mounting it. This might save a few seconds on boot if you are using an encrypted RAID device for example, because systemd doesn't have to wait for the device to become available. For example:

data /dev/md0 /root/key noauto

Disabling native mount

With v12 or later, you can disable the native mount and fsck facility in /etc/systemd/system.conf:

Note: These options are enabled by default.


systemd comes with its own readahead implementation, this should in principle improve boot time. However, depending on your kernel version and the type of your hard drive, your mileage may vary (i.e. it might be slower). To enable, do:

# systemctl enable systemd-readahead-collect.service
# systemctl enable systemd-readahead-replay.service

Remember that in order for the readahead to work its magic, you should reboot a couple of times.

User sessions

systemd can divide user sessions into cgroups. Add session optional to your relevant /etc/pam.d/ files (e.g., login for tty logins, sshd for remote access, kde for password kdm logins, kde-np for automatic kdm logins).


$ systemd-cgls systemd:/system/getty@.service
├ tty5
│ └ 904 /sbin/agetty tty5 38400
├ tty2
│ ├ 13312 /bin/login --
│ └ 15765 -zsh


$ systemd-cgls systemd:/user/example/
├ 4
│ ├   902 /bin/login --
│ └ 16016 -zsh

Further, you can replace ConsoleKit's functionality with systemd. Be sure to do the above, then build polkit from ABS with systemd enabled, and stuffs like USB automounting will work without consolekit.

See also