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Welcome to the Slackware Documentation Project



runit is a UNIX init scheme with service supervision. It is a cross-platform Unix init scheme with service supervision, a replacement for sysvinit, and other init schemes and supervision that are used with the traditional init. runit is compatible with djb's daemontools.

In Unix-based computer operating systems, init (short for initialization) is the first process started during booting of the computer system. Init is a daemon process that continues running until the system is shut down. Slackware comes with its own legacy init (/sbin/init) from the sysvinit package, that used to be included in almost all other major Linux distributions.

The init daemon (or its replacement) is characterised by Process ID 1 (PID 1).

To read on the benefits of runit, see here: http://smarden.org/runit/benefits.html

* Unless otherwise stated, all commands in this article are to be run by root.

Use runit with traditional init (sysvinit)

runit is not provided by Slackware, but a SlackBuild is maintained on https://slackbuilds.org/. It does not have any dependencies.

As we do not want yet to replace init with runit, run the slackbuild with CONFIG=no:

CONFIG=no ./runit.SlackBuild

Then install the resulting package and proceed as follows:

mkdir /etc/runit/ /service/
cp -a /usr/doc/runit-*/etc/2 /etc/runit/
/sbin/runsvdir-start &

Starting via rc.local

For a typical Slackware-stlyle service, you can edit /etc/rc.d/rc.local file

if [ -x /sbin/runsvdir-start ]; then
  /sbin/runsvdir-start &

and then edit write /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown

RUNIT=x$( /sbin/pidof runsvdir )
if [ "$RUNIT" !=  x ]; then
  kill $RUNIT

Then give rc.local_shutdown executive permission:

chmod +x /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown

and reboot

Starting via inittab (supervised)

Remove the entries in /etc/rc.d/rc.local and /etc/rc.d/rc.local_shutdown described above.

Edit /etc/inittab

cat >>/etc/inittab <<EOT

and tell init to re-read its configuration, e.g.:

init q

or reboot

How to replace init with runit

runit provides runit-init which can be used to boot up the system.

If you followed the previous chapter, then stop runsvdir and reverse all the changes that you made on your system.

So, remove the last line from /etc/inittab

rm -rf /etc/runit /service

And reboot:

shutdown -r now

Also, it is best to re-build and re-install runit

This time, when running slackbuild, do pass not any value for CONFIG, or set it to yes:

unset CONFIG 
sh runit.SlackBuild

and upgrade with the resulting runit package.

Disable services that are already provided by the traditional init:

cd /service/
rm *

Create a new TTY service for runit:

cd /etc/sv/
cp -ar agetty-tty1/ agetty-tty8/
sed -i 's/tty1/tty8/g' agetty-tty8/*
ln -s /etc/sv/agetty-tty8 /service

Start runit's stage 2 for testing:

/etc/runit/2 &

And check that the agetty is running, by logging in as an unprivileged user (not as root!)


If this has been successful, then reverse the last intervention:

kill $( pidof runsvdir )

rm /service/agetty-tty8
rm -rf /etc/sv/agetty-tty8
for N in {1..6}; do
  ln -s /etc/sv/agetty-tty${N} /service

Then, to boot in runit, reboot and enter init=/sbin/runit-init in the Lilo prompt. To do this, hit the tab key when you are presented with the Lilo menu as shown in Images 1 and 2 below.

Image 1.: Hit the Tab key on the Lilo Menu before the counter times out.

Image 2: Add init=/sbin/runit-init in the OS Selection Prompt

Confirm that runit has taken PID 1:

ps -o comm= -p 1

If you do not have a multi boot system, you may append the init selection in /etc/lilo.conf

For example:

append="vt.default_utf8=0 init=/sbin/runit-init"

Then run lilo:

lilo -v

Or just replace /sbin/init with /sbin/runit-init like this:

cp /sbin/init /sbin/init.sysv
cp /sbin/runit-init /sbin/init

However, with the last alternative, be warned that if you had booted with the original init, the system may refuse to reboot, therefore boot from runit-init first.

Startup and Shutdown

The BSD style init scripts provided by Slackware are used to bring up the system.

Initially the single user script /etc/rc.d/rc.S runs. If set in the default runlevel 3, it follows it with /etc/rc.d/rc.M. In runit the initialisation script is located in /etc/runit/1 for all runlevels. By default /etc/runit/2 is restricted to the TTY services.

The script /etc/rc.d/rc.6 is the rebooting script for the traditional init, while /etc/rc.d/rc.0 (symlinked to the former) is the halting script. In runit, these scripts are called by /etc/runit/3

Note that the shutdown command provided by sysvinit package will not work in runit. To reboot you enter

/sbin/runit-init 6

and to halt enter

/sbin/runit-init 0

A convenient script is provided with the configuration files which is placed in /usr/sbin/shutdown that determines whether the system has booted with the traditional init or runit and then calls the relevant command accordingly.

The halt, reboot and poweroff commands provided by the sysvinit package would still work with runit.

Desktop Environments call /sbin/shutdown so they will not work until you move this file and symlink it to /usr/sbin/shutdown

mv /sbin/shutdown /sbin/shutdown.sysv
ln -s /usr/sbin/shutdown /sbin/shutdown

However consider that shutdown would not work for the original init.


Although runit may replace init as the PID 1 daemon, there is not much benefit unless other services are migrated from Slackware's BSD style to runsv(8). While this is not a complicated task, some familiarisation with runit's characteristics is recommended and makes the task easier. This short example should help illustrate runsv to new users.

Make an arbitrary directory under /etc/sv/

mkdir /etc/sv/example/

As a non-priviliged user (say user bob), create some directories:

mkdir -p /home/bob/runit/logs

Then edit a /home/bob/runit/service.sh script that simulates a (finicky) service in a convenient directory; say

echo "Started service..."
for i in {1..10}
  echo "Doing stuff..."
  sleep 1
echo "Oh no I crashed..." >&2
exit 1

Give it executable permission:

chmod +x /home/bob/runit/service.sh

Run it to check and appreciate its execution:


Log in back as root and edit a file called /etc/sv/example/run and give it executable permissions:

#!/bin/sh -e
exec 2>&1
exec chpst -u bob /home/bob/runit/service.sh
chmod +x /etc/sv/example/run

Note the exec in the last line, it tells the shell that interprets the script to replace itself with the service daemon

Naturally edit as necessary.

Create another directory:

mkdir /etc/sv/example/log/

and edit another file under it, also called /etc/sv/example/log/run

exec chpst -u bob svlogd -tt /home/bob/runit/logs

Give it executable permission:

chmod +x /etc/sv/example/log/run

Run the service to ensure that it works:


Finally, we are ready to deploy the service. Create a symbolic link in /service to our staging location.

ln -s /etc/sv/example /service

Watch how your “service” works, crashes, but it is recovered by runit:

As your non-privilged user:

tail -f /home/bob/runit/logs/current 

Hit CTRL+C to exit.

Finally, login back as root and let bob take the ownership of the whole /etc/sv/example/ directory:

chown -R bob.users /etc/sv/example/

Now bob can manage this service with the sv command. Note that in most cases, services should belong to root, and only to root.

Managing Services with sv

To see the status of a supervised service use sv s <service_name>, for example,

sv s example


run: example: (pid 42) 1587s

To see the status of all services, use

sv s /service/*


Start a service

sv u example

Stop a service

sv d example

Restart a service

sv t example

Each of these is a shortcut, for 'up', 'down', and 'terminate', respectively. Only the first letter of each word is recognised.

More verbose forms of the above:

sv start example

sv stop example

sv restart example

Each of these will also return the status of the service upon exit.

Enabling a service

Service directories are placed under /etc/sv/. To enable a service in the current runlevel, create a symlink from it to /service.

ln -s /etc/sv/example /service/

Once a service is linked it will always start on boot and restart if it stops (unless this is disabled).

Disabling a service

To disable a service in the current runlevel remove the symlink to its service directory from /service.

rm /service/example

Removing the symlink will also stop the service.

Check out the sv man page to see additional options.

man sv

If you do not want a service to start upon bootup, or when enabled, just touch an empty file called down in the appropriate service directory.

touch /etc/sv/service/down


Dependencies of service are supported by starting the dependent run script as follows:

sv start dependent-service || exit 1
exec ...


If you installed the slackbuild configuration files, you have two runlevels: default and single. The current runlevel is default. You can verify by looking under /etc/runit/runsvdir/, you will see that /etc/runit/runsvdir/current is a symbolic link /etc/runit/runsvdir/default/.

Change runlevel to another runlevel; single:

runsvchdir single

You will see that /etc/runit/runsvdir/current is now symlinked to /etc/runit/runsvdir/single and /etc/runit/runsvdir/previous is symlinked to /etc/runsvdir/default. If you reboot, you will boot again on the default runlevel as you have this entry in /etc/runit/2

runsvchdir default >/dev/null

You can create any other runlevel and name them as you like. To start, you can copy an existing runlevel directory and modify as you wish.

cp -ar /etc/runit/runsvdir/default /etc/runit/runsvdir/custom/

You can edit the runsvdir line of /etc/runit/2 to your requirements.

Run scripts

Only one executable can be called for a service (the last line) and it must be called by the exec command. There are some generic runit run scripts on the Internet and on other Linux distributions. Also, other Slackers may post them on publicly available repositories. The author of this article has placed his here: https://gitlab.com/chrisabela/runit_scripts_for_slackware

Another set of installable run scripts are available at SBo.

In direct contrast to Slackware's BSD style service scripts, runit run scripts must not must run in the foreground, otherwise runit would think that they have crashed and restart them.

For some services, this may not be possible, but there are workarounds. You can forcefully terminate them by ending the run script like this:

sv d service_name

Or you can use the pause command to keep the service alive. pause is a trivial command that will simply not exit, until it is killed (akin to tail -f /dev/null). A SlackBuild for pause is available at SBo. Then end the run script with:

exec chpst -b service_name pause

Migrating Services

It is suggested that services are migrated from stage 2 (which are still under the Slackware's BSD init scheme) to stage 3 carefully. Start from the bottom of /etc/rc.d/rc.M and work up. This means that you should start with any entries under /etc/rc.d/rc.local

Then continue for /etc/rc.d/rc.S

Proceed with other services to benefit's from runit features. Note that for some services, such as atd and crond, you would need to edit /etc/rc.d/rc.M as they are hard-coded.

Let's take the popular NetworkManager service as an example. According to the permission of /etc/rc.d/rc.networkmanager this script is called by /etc/rc.d/rc.M The latter is called by /etc/runit/2 (stage 2).

Stop the service:

/etc/rc.d/rc.networkmanager stop

Disable it:

chmod -x /etc/rc.d/rc.networkmanager

Create a suitable directory for runit

mkdir /etc/sv/networkmanager/

Write a runit run script: /etc/sv/networkmanager/run


export XDG_CACHE_HOME=/root/.cache 
exec $NETWORKMANAGER_BIN -n > /dev/null 2>&1

Symlink the /etc/sv/networkmanager directory to /service to enable under current runlevel and it will start in a few seconds:

ln -s /etc/sv/networkmanager /service

If run exits and /etc/sv/<service name>/finish exists (typically when the service is switched off), runsv runs finish if it has executable permission.

It is stuggested to let udev under runit's stage 2, but you can setup its monitoring for stage 3.

Using runit-init with other init scripts


Here runit-init is used for booting, which then transfers control to the OpenRC for things like mounting the filesystem, loading modules, running udev, etc.

It requires a working OpenRC system. Check the openrc page for instructions. The level 1 runit service uses the OpenRC boot and sysinit runlevels.

The gentoo wiki has more information, and runit-init-openrc details how to install and set it up.


Here the scripts provided by the void-runit project are used to mount the filesystem, load modules, etc.

Currently this is the most independent way to setup runit.


 howtos:slackware_admin:runit ()