Resource Mgmt with systemctl

systemctl is the utility used to control systemd. systemctl provides CentOS administrators with the ability to perform a multitude of operations on systemd including −

  • Configure systemd units
  • Get status of systemd untis
  • Start and stop services
  • Enable / disable systemd services for runtime, etc.

The command syntax for systemctl is pretty basic, but can tangle with switches and options. We will present the most essential functions of systemctl needed for administering CentOS Linux.

Basic systemctl syntax: 

Following are the common commands used with systemctl

  • start
  • stop
  • restart
  • reload
  • status
  • is-active
  • list-units
  • enable
  • disable
  • cat
  • show

We have already discussed start, stop, reload, restart, enable and disable with systemctl. So let's go over the remaining commonly used commands.


In its most simple form, the status command can be used to see the system status as a whole −

[root@localhost rdc]# systemctl status 
 ● localhost.localdomain 
  State: running 
  Jobs: 0 queued
  Failed: 0 units 
  Since: Thu 2017-01-19 19:14:37 EST; 4h 5min ago 
CGroup: / 
       ├─1 /usr/lib/systemd/systemd --switched-root --system --deserialize 21 
       │ └─user-1002.slice 
       │   └─session-1.scope 
       │     ├─2869 gdm-session-worker [pam/gdm-password] 
       │     ├─2881 /usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --daemonize --login 
       │     ├─2888 gnome-session --session gnome-classic 
       │     ├─2895 dbus-launch --sh-syntax --exit-with-session

The above output has been condensed. In the real-world systemctl status will output about 100 lines of treed process statuses.

Let's say we want to check the status of our firewall service −

[root@localhost rdc]# systemctl status firewalld 
● firewalld.service - firewalld - dynamic firewall daemon 
Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/firewalld.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled) 
Active: active (running) since Thu 2017-01-19 19:14:55 EST; 4h 12min ago 
 Docs: man:firewalld(1) 
Main PID: 825 (firewalld) 
CGroup: /system.slice/firewalld.service 
       └─825 /usr/bin/python -Es /usr/sbin/firewalld --nofork --nopid

As you see, our firewall service is currently active and has been for over 4 hours.


The list-units command allows us to list all the units of a certain type. Let's check for sockets managed by systemd

[root@localhost]# systemctl list-units --type=socket 
UNIT                         LOAD     ACTIVE     SUB     DESCRIPTION     
avahi-daemon.socket          loaded   active  running    Avahi mDNS/DNS-SD Stack Activation Socket 
cups.socket                  loaded   active  running    CUPS Printing Service Sockets 
dbus.socket                  loaded   active  running    D-Bus System Message Bus Socket 
dm-event.socket              loaded   active  listening  Device-mapper event daemon FIFOs 
iscsid.socket                loaded   active  listening  Open-iSCSI iscsid Socket
iscsiuio.socket              loaded   active  listening  Open-iSCSI iscsiuio Socket 
lvm2-lvmetad.socket          loaded   active  running    LVM2 metadata daemon socket 
lvm2-lvmpolld.socket         loaded   active  listening  LVM2 poll daemon socket 
rpcbind.socket               loaded   active  listening  RPCbind Server Activation Socket 
systemd-initctl.socket       loaded   active  listening  /dev/initctl Compatibility Named Pipe 
systemd-journald.socket      loaded   active  running    Journal Socket 
systemd-shutdownd.socket     loaded   active  listening  Delayed Shutdown Socket 
systemd-udevd-control.socket loaded   active  running    udev Control Socket 
systemd-udevd-kernel.socket  loaded   active  running    udev Kernel Socket 
virtlockd.socket             loaded   active  listening  Virtual machine lock manager socket 
virtlogd.socket              loaded   active  listening  Virtual machine log manager socket

Now let’s check the current running services −

[root@localhost rdc]# systemctl list-units --type=service 
UNIT                      LOAD     ACTIVE     SUB     DESCRIPTION 
abrt-ccpp.service         loaded   active   exited    Install ABRT coredump hook 
abrt-oops.service         loaded   active   running   ABRT kernel log watcher 
abrt-xorg.service         loaded   active   running   ABRT Xorg log watcher 
abrtd.service             loaded   active   running   ABRT Automated Bug Reporting Tool 
accounts-daemon.service   loaded   active   running   Accounts Service 
alsa-state.service        loaded   active   running   Manage Sound Card State (restore and store) 
atd.service               loaded   active   running   Job spooling tools 
auditd.service            loaded   active   running   Security Auditing Service


The is-active command is an example of systemctl commands designed to return the status information of a unit.

[root@localhost rdc]# systemctl is-active ksm.service 


cat is one of the seldomly used command. Instead of using cat at the shell and typing the path to a unit file, simply use systemctl cat.

[root@localhost]# systemctl cat firewalld 
# /usr/lib/systemd/system/firewalld.service
Description=firewalld - dynamic firewall daemon 
Before = NetworkManager.service 
Conflicts=iptables.service ip6tables.service ebtables.service ipset.service 

EnvironmentFile = -/etc/sysconfig/firewalld 
ExecStart = /usr/sbin/firewalld --nofork --nopid $FIREWALLD_ARGS 
ExecReload = /bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID 
# supress to log debug and error output also to /var/log/messages 
StandardOutput = null 
StandardError = null

Type = dbus 
BusName = org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1

WantedBy = 
Alias = dbus-org.fedoraproject.FirewallD1.service


Now that we have explored both systemd and systemctl in more detail, let's use them to manage the resources in cgroups or control groups.