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systemctl + what is the meaning of Restart=always [Resolved]

I configured the service - calc_mem.service

as the following


the configuration above should do the following from my understanding

the service have 3 retries when service exit with error

and before service start it will wait 5 seconds

also I found that "Restart" can be also:


I can understand that need to restart the service on failure but what is the meaning of Restart=always ?

in which case we need to set - Restart=always

Question Credit: yael
Question Reference
Asked March 23, 2019
Posted Under: Unix Linux
3 Answers

The systemd.service man page has a description of the values Restart= takes, and a table of what options cause a restart when. Always pretty much does what it says on the lid:

If set to always, the service will be restarted regardless of whether it exited cleanly or not, got terminated abnormally by a signal, or hit a timeout.

I don't know for sure what situation they had in mind for that feature, but we might hypothesise e.g. a service configured to only run for a fixed period of time or to serve fixed number of requests and to then stop to avoid any possible resource leaks. Having systemd do the restarting makes for a cleaner implementation of the service itself.

In some sense, we might also ask why not include that option in systemd. Since it is capable of restarting services on failure, they might as well include the option of restarting the service always, just in case someone needs it. To provide tools, not policy.

Note also that a "successful exit" here is defined rather broadly:

If set to on-success, it will be restarted only when the service process exits cleanly. In this context, a clean exit means an exit code of 0, or one of the signals SIGHUP, SIGINT, SIGTERM or SIGPIPE, [...]

SIGHUP is a common way of asking a process to restart, but it unhandled, it terminates the process. So having Restart=always (or Restart=on-success) allows to use SIGHUP for restarting, even without the service itself supporting that.

Also, as far as I can read the man page, always doesn't mean it would override the limits set by StartLimitInterval and StartLimitBurst:

Note that service restart is subject to unit start rate limiting configured with StartLimitIntervalSec= and StartLimitBurst=, see systemd.unit(5) for details. A restarted service enters the failed state only after the start limits are reached.

credit: ilkkachu
Answered March 23, 2019

If set to on-failure, the service will be restarted when the process exits with a non-zero exit code, is terminated by a signal (including on core dump, but excluding the aforementioned four signals), when an operation (such as service reload) times out, and when the configured watchdog timeout is triggered. [...] If set to always, the service will be restarted regardless of whether it exited cleanly or not, got terminated abnormally by a signal, or hit a timeout.

Excerpt from

So if you set on-failure, it won't get restarted on clean exit.

credit: Panki
Answered March 23, 2019
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