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Service is the program that resides in memory and provides special functions for system or network. Unix-like system uses daemon processes to serve as services, thus a "service" is sometimes used to refer to a "daemon" in system process list.

Generally, once we start up a Linux system and enter command line mode or graphical environment, a lots of services have already being run to make the system function properly.


Categories of services

According to the way of starting and managing

Stand alone service

The stand alone service can be started alone, and occupy system resources until it is stopped manually. Because it resides in system memory, it can quickly response to the request from client.

Common services of this kind: WWW daemon (httpd), FTP daemon (vsftpd) and so on.

Super daemon

The super daemon is a special daemon process used to manage other service. When there is no request from client, the super daemon keeps other services stopped; when a client request comes in, it wakes up the related service and stops this service after tasks have been finished.

The advantages: services are started and stopped on demand and under control, which is similar to the firewall on the Internet. Also, services do not occupy system resources all the time.

The disadvantages: system needs extra time to load and unload the service on demand, prolong the time of response.

Common services of this kind: telnet service.

According to the way of dealing request

Multi-threaded service

The daemon that handles multiple requests at a same time.

Single-threaded service

The daemon that handles only one request at a same time. The other request must be pending to the waiting list, or fail.

According to the working mode

Signal-control service

The Daemon that is managed by signals sent from system. Once a request comes in, it is immediately waken up to deal with it. Example: Unix printing system daemon (cupsd).


The daemon that is waken by a regular time interval to do its work. Users need to configure the time and the tasks, so that the daemon will finish them at a specified time. Example: atd and crond.

Note: if you are interested in developing programs, use man 3 daemon to see details information of system daemons.

Nomination of services

Generally, services have a "d" at the end of their names, which indicates they are realized by daemon processes.

The way of starting

In order to provide services, daemons usually need to be started with the environment correctly configured. Also, for management of these services, their running status like PIDs are recorded in directory /var/run. To have all these things done, most Linux distributions provides pre-configured shell scripts to start these service. Just run this script, and it will:

  • detect the running environment

  • analyze configurations

  • write process information

  • lock status file

and many things so on.

The common places where these shell scripts are put:

/etc/init.d/* : holding almost all startup scripts.

/etc/sysconfig/* : configuration scripts of each system service.

/etc/xinetd.conf and /etc/xinetd.d/* : configuration files of super daemons

/etc/* : Configuration files of other services.

/var/lib/* : databases of services. For example, /var/lib/mysql is used by MySQL database.

/var/run/* : Running status of each program. It is used by shell scripts to manage the process that have already been started, either by sending signals or invoke system calls.

Common service

  • acpi-support Support of Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
  • acpid acpi Daemon of ACPI
  • apmd acpi Extension of ACPI
  • alsa Subsystem for sound management
  • alsa-utils Utilities for ALSA
  • cron Task scheduler system
  • anacron Subsystem of cron, automatically run delayed tasks after system boot
  • atd Task scheduler system similar to cron. Recommended to disable.
  • binfmt-support Support of other binary formats.
  • bluez-utiles Support of Bluetooth devices.
  • bootlogd Recording journals during boot. Recommended to enable.
  • syslog-ng System journaling. Recommended to enable.
  • klogd Similar to sylog.
  • sysklogd Recording system log as well as kernel log.
  • cupsys Common UNIX Printing System.
  • dbus Message bus system. Very important to desktop applications.
  • dns-clean Clean DNS information when using dial-up connections.
  • evms Volumn management system for enterprise.
  • fetchm User proxy for fetching mails.
  • gdm GNOME login manager
  • gpm Mouse support in terminal.
  • halt Shutdown the system.
  • hdparm Scripts for adjusting hard disk (using configurations from /etc/hdparm.conf)
  • hibernate System hibernation.
  • hotkey-setup Support of Fn keys on laptop.
  • hotplug and hotplug-net Plug-and-play support. Recommended to leave them untouched.
  • ifrename Scripts for rename of network interfaces. Recommended to enable if you have several network card.
  • inetd A super daemon for managing other services (using configurations from /etc/inetd.conf)
  • linux-restricted-modules-common Support of restricted system module.
  • lvm Logical volume management
  • makedev Creating device files. Very import.
  • mdamd Management of disk array.
  • module-init-tools Load modules from /etc/modules. Recommended to enable.
  • networking Networking support (using configurations from /etc/network/interfaces). Very important.
  • ntpdate Synchronization of time. Recommended to disable.
  • pcmcia Support of pcmcia device.
  • powernowd Advanced power management of mobile CPU.
  • ppp Management of dial-up connections.
  • ppp-dns DNS service for dial-up connections.
  • readahead Read library files before they are used.
  • reboot Rebooting system.
  • resolvconf Automatic configuring DNS.
  • rmnologin Remove nologin.
  • rsync Rsync daemon.
  • sendsigs Send signals to processess during reboot and shutdown.
  • single Switch to single user mode.
  • sshd SSH server daemon.
  • sudo Check sudo status.
  • udev Userspace dev file system. Important.
  • umountfs Umounting file system.
  • urandom Random number generator.
  • usplash Offer an animation during startup.
  • vbesave Tools for configuration of video cards in BIOS.
  • xorg-common Set ICE socket for X service.
  • adjtimex Adjust kernel clock.
  • dirmngr Tools for managing certificate list.
  • hwtools IRQs optimization.
  • libpam-devperm Fix device file after system crashes.
  • lm-sensors Support of onboard sensors.
  • mdadm-raid RAID manager.
  • screen-cleanup A script for clearing screen during startup.
  • xinetd Super daemon for managing other services.

Note: /lib/linux-restricted-modules/ is used to store restricted modules such as closed source drivers. If you do not use any of these modules, please do not enable linux-restricted-modules-common service.

Service management


chkconfig is a command line tool for enabling and disabling system services.


    chkconfig [--add][--del][--list][Service]
    chkconfig [--level<Level>][Service][on/off/reset]


    --add    Add the specified system service
    --del    Delete the specified system service
    --level    Specify the level that the service is to be started in or stopped in
    --list    List all services available for chkconfig and their levels
    on/off/reset    Enable, disable or reset the specified service

See Initialization for explanation of system runlevel.


To see status of each service in different runlevel:

     chkconfig --list

To list status of vsftpd in different runlevel:

     chkconfig --list vsftpd

To disable vsftpd in runlevel 3 and 5:

     chkconfig --level 35 vsftpd off

To enable vsftpd in runlevel 2, 3 and 5:

     chkconfig --level 235 vsftpd on

To disable unused services:

     chkconfig --level 235 cups off  ## For system that does not have a printer
     chkconfig --level 235 smb off ## For system that does not have a network connection
     chkconfig --level 235 sshd off ## For system that does not have remove login
     chkconfig --level 235 crond off ## For system that does not have regular tasks
     chkconfig --level 235 kudzu off ## For system that does not have new hardware installed


Use service to start, stop, restart and show status of system services.


service Service Command [Options]


    Service    Name of the service to deal with; the name should be found in directory /etc/init.d/
    -status-all    Show status of all stand alone services
    --help | -h    Show helpful information


     service --status-all ## Show all services 

     sudo service httpd stop ## Stop service httpd

     sudo service httpd start ## Start service httpd

     sudo service httpd restart ## Restart service httpd


鸟哥私房菜:认识系统服务 (daemons)