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initctl - init daemon control tool  


initctl [OPTION]... COMMAND [OPTION]... ARG...  


initctl allows a system administrator to communicate and interact with the Upstart init(8) daemon.

When run as initctl, the first non-option argument is the COMMAND. Global options may be specified before or after the command.

You may also create symbolic or hard links to initctl named after commands. When invoked through these links the tool will behave only as that command, with global and command-specific options intermixed. The default installation supplies such links for the start, stop, restart and status commands.  


Communication with the init(8) daemon is normally performed over a private socket connection. This has the advantage of speed and robustness, when issuing commands to start or stop services or even reboot the system you do not want to be affected by changes to the D-Bus system bus daemon.

The disadvantage to using the private socket however is security, init(8) only permits the root user to communicate over this socket which means that read-only commands such as status and list cannot be made by other users.

The --system option instructs initctl to communicate via the D-Bus system bus rather than over the private socket.

This is only possible if the system bus daemon is running and if init(8) is connected to it. The advantage is that the default security configuration allows non-root users to use read-only commands.

Specifies the well-known name of the init(8) daemon when using --system.

There is normally no need to use this option since the init(8) daemon uses the default com.ubuntu.Upstart name. However it may be useful for debugging.

Applies to the start, stop, restart and emit commands.

Normally initctl will wait for the command to finish before returning.

For the start, stop and restart commands, finishing means that the named job is running (or has finished for tasks) or has been fully stopped.

For the emit command, finishing means that all of the jobs affected by the event are running (or have finished for tasks) or have been fully stopped.

This option instead causes these commands to only wait for the goal change or event to be queued.

Reduces output of all commands to errors only.



Requests that a new instance of the named JOB be started, outputting the status of the job to standard output when the command completes.

See status for a description of the output format.

The optional KEY=VALUE arguments specify environment variables to be passed to the starting job, and placed in its environment. They also serve to specify which instance of multi-instance jobs should be started.

Most jobs only permit a single instance; those that use the instance stanza in their configuration define a string expanded from environment variables to name the instance. As many unique instances may be started as unique names may be generated by the stanza. Thus the environment variables also serve to select which instance of JOB is to be acted upon.

If the job is already running, start will return an error.


Requests that an instance of the named JOB be stopped, outputting the status of the job to standard output when the command completes.

See status for a description of the output format and start for a discussion on instances.


Requests the status an instance of the named JOB, outputting to standard output.

See start for a discusson on instances.

For a single-instance job a line like the following is output:

  job start/running, process 1234

The job name is given first followed by the current goal and state of the selected instance. The goal is either start or stop, the status may be one of waiting, starting, pre-start, spawned, post-start, running, pre-stop, stopping, killed or post-stop.

If the job has an active process, the process id will follow on the same line. If the state is pre-start or post-stop this will be the process id of the equivalent process, otherwise it will be the process id of the main process.

  job start/pre-start, process 902

The post-start and pre-stop states may have multiple processes attached, the extra processes will follow on consecutive lines indented by a tab:

  job start/post-start, process 1234
          post-start process 1357

If there is no main process, they may follow on the same line but will be prefixed to indicate that it is not the main process id being given:

  job start/post-start, (post-start) process 1357

Jobs that permit multiple instances have names for each instance, the output is otherwise identical to the above except that the instance name follows the job name in parentheses:

  job (tty1) start/post-start, process 1234
          post-start process 1357

Requests a list of the known jobs and instances, outputs the status of each to standard output.

See status for a description of the output format and start for a discussion on instances.

No particular order is used for the output, and there is no difference in the output (other than the instance name appearing in parentheses) between single-instance and multiple-instance jobs.


Requests that the named EVENT be emitted, potentially causing jobs to be started and stopped depending on their use of the start on and stop on stanzas in their configuration.

The optional KEY=VALUE arguments specify environment variables to be included with the event and thus exported into the environment of any jobs started and stopped by the event.

The environment may also serve to specify which instance of multi-instance jobs should be started or stopped. See start for a discussion on instances.

There is no limitation on the event names that may be emitted with this command, you are free to invent new events and use them in your job configurations.

The most well known event used by the default Upstart configuration is the runlevel(7) event. This is normally emitted by the telinit(8) and shutdown(8) tools.


Requests that the init(8) daemon reloads its configuration.

This command is generally not necessary since init(8) watches its configuration directories with inotify(7) and automatically reloads in cases of changes.

No jobs will be started by this command.


Requests and outputs the version of the running init daemon.


When called with a PRIORITY argument, it requests that the init(8) daemon log all messages with that priority or greater. This may be used to both increase and decrease the volume of logged messages.

PRIORITY may be one of debug, info, message, warn, error or fatal.

When called without argument, it requests the current minimum message priority that the init(8) daemon will log and ouputs to standard output.



Written by Scott James Remnant <>  


Report bugs at <>  


Copyright © 2009 Canonical Ltd.
This is free software; see the source for copying conditions. There is NO warranty; not even for MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  


init(8) telinit(8) shutdown(8)




This document was created by man2html, using the manual pages.
Time: 15:28:08 GMT, June 11, 2010

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