systemd and the Linux kernel

This comes up all too often, so here’s a HowTo for systemd on Exherbo:

  • You have to run a Linux kernel >=2.6.39. The new kernel is only needed at runtime, not for building systemd.
  • You should run a Linux kernel >=3.0. The new kernel is only needed at runtime, not for building systemd.
  • Kernel options for systemd: In your kernel config, enable autofs4, devtmpfs and cgroups. Do not enable autofs3. Here’s what I’m using (I enable more kernel options than strictly necessary, though.):

CONFIG_DEVTMPFS=y (Strictly required!)

CONFIG_DEVTMPFS_MOUNT=y (unless you're using an initramfs that's mounting it for you, e. g. one created by Dracut)

# CONFIG_AUTOFS_FS is not set (Strictly required!)

CONFIG_AUTOFS4_FS=y (Strictly required!)

CONFIG_CGROUPS=y (Strictly required!)










CONFIG_FANOTIFY=y (only used for readahead stuff which is not enabled by default.)

CONFIG_FANOTIFY_ACCESS_PERMISSIONS=y (only used for readahead stuff which is not enabled by default.)

systemd in Exherbo – what’s happened so far…

It has been quite a while since I last wrote something about my work on systemd in Exherbo, so here’s an update:

What has been accomplished so far:

  • The Exherbo patches are done. Do NOT try to submit them upstream yet, though. I’ll take care of that when the time is ripe.
  • Lots of services are done.
  • You can boot and run most systems using systemd now.
  • I’ve built new amd64 and x86 stages without any init system so you can start out without the baselayout-1/sysvinit cruft.
  • The installation guide has been updated.

Every systemd service is implemented natively and we’re not using anything from baselayout-1 or sysvinit anymore. Instead, all the important stuff has been moved to skeleton-filesystem-layout. systemd’s dependencies have been updated accordingly.

Thus, for people using systemd, baselayout-1 and sysvinit are now obsolete. YAY!

What still needs to be done:

  • Improve existing service definitions for systemd.
  • Create socket definitions for several of the existing service definitions. (And new ones, of course.)
  • Create systemd service files for missing services.

Rules for new service files:

  • Please make sure they’re implemented natively. I won’t accept non-native service files unless you can convince me there’s definitely no other solution.
  • If you convinced me, scripts go to /usr/${LIBDIR}/systemd.
  • EnvironmentFiles (configuration) go to /etc/conf.d and end in .conf. We do NOT create a configuration file for every single service but create (grep-able) logical units, e. g. now-obsolete font@.service and keymap@.service used to use console.conf).
  • You can reference environment variables from configuration files in service. If you have to quote the values in the configuration file, you need to use $FOO; if you don’t quote them (preferred), you use ${FOO}. This is probably a bug (and known to upstream) but for now that’s how it is.
  • Services and their (potentially) accompanying files must not collide with baselayout-1.


  • You have to run Linux kernel >=2.6.36-rc1 (I’m using 2.6.36-rc6; latest NVidia-Drivers work fine and there are patches for the VMWare modules available.).

How to get started with systemd:

Read this.


Since both systemd and its exheres have now reached an acceptable degree of stability, I don’t intend on breaking things anymore as I’ve done over the last months from time to time.

In fact, systemd is so usable these days, I’m writing this on a systemd-initialised system! This means as well that I can live without baselayout-1 and sysvinit. YAY! :-)