SysVinit to Systemd Cheatsheet

This is a document to help system administrators who need to understand what commands in systemd replace their old workflow in sysvinit. If you want general information on systemd, refer to systemd.

Note on ‚service‘ and ‚chkconfig‘ commands
The ‚service‘ and ‚chkconfig‘ commands will mostly continue to work as expected in the systemd world, this guide is how to use the native systemctl replacements.


Note that all recent versions of systemctl assume the ‚.service‘ if left off. So, ‚systemctl start frobozz.service‘ is the same as ‚systemctl start frobozz‘

Sysvinit CommandSystemd CommandNotes
service frobozz startsystemctl start frobozzUsed to start a service (not reboot persistent)
service frobozz stopsystemctl stop frobozzUsed to stop a service (not reboot persistent)
service frobozz restartsystemctl restart frobozzUsed to stop and then start a service
service frobozz reloadsystemctl reload frobozzWhen supported, reloads the config file without interrupting pending operations.
service frobozz condrestartsystemctl condrestart frobozzRestarts if the service is already running.
service frobozz statussystemctl status frobozzTells whether a service is currently running.
ls /etc/rc.d/init.d/systemctl (or) systemctl list-unit-files –type=service (or)
ls /lib/systemd/system/*.service /etc/systemd/system/*.service
Used to list the services that can be started or stopped
Used to list all the services and other units
chkconfig frobozz onsystemctl enable frobozzTurn the service on, for start at next boot, or other trigger.
chkconfig frobozz offsystemctl disable frobozzTurn the service off for the next reboot, or any other trigger.
chkconfig frobozzsystemctl is-enabled frobozzUsed to check whether a service is configured to start or not in the current environment.
chkconfig –listsystemctl list-unit-files –type=service (or) ls /etc/systemd/system/*.wants/Print a table of services that lists which runlevels each is configured on or off
chkconfig –list | grep 5:onsystemctl list-dependencies graphical.targetPrint a table of services that will be started when booting into graphical mode
chkconfig frobozz –listls /etc/systemd/system/*.wants/frobozz.serviceUsed to list what levels this service is configured on or off
chkconfig frobozz –addsystemctl daemon-reloadUsed when you create a new service file or modify any configuration

Note that all /sbin/service and /sbin/chkconfig lines listed above continue to work on systemd, and will be translated to native equivalents as necessary. The only exception is chkconfig –list.

Additional commands
In SysVinit, services can define arbitrary commands. Examples would be service iptables panic, or service httpd graceful. Native systemd services do not have this ability.

Any service that defines an additional command in this way would need to define some other, service-specific, way to accomplish this task when writing a native systemd service definition.

Check the package-specific release notes for any services that may have done this.


Systemd has a concept of targets which serve a similar purpose as runlevels but act a little different. Each target is named instead of numbered and is intended to serve a specific purpose. Some targets are implemented by inheriting all of the services of another target and adding additional services to it. There are systemd targets that mimic the common sysvinit runlevels so you can still switch targets using the familiar telinit RUNLEVEL command. The runlevels that are assigned a specific purpose on vanilla Fedora installs; 0, 1, 3, 5, and 6; have a 1:1 mapping with a specific systemd target. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to do the same for the user-defined runlevels like 2 and 4. If you make use of those it is suggested that you make a new named systemd target as /etc/systemd/system/$YOURTARGET that takes one of the existing runlevels as a base (you can look at /lib/systemd/system/ as an example), make a directory /etc/systemd/system/$YOURTARGET.wants, and then symlink the additional services that you want to enable into that directory. (The service unit files that you symlink live in /lib/systemd/system).

Sysvinit RunlevelSystemd TargetNotes, poweroff.targetHalt the system.
1, s,, rescue.targetSingle user mode.
2,,, multi-user.targetUser-defined/Site-specific runlevels. By default, identical to 3., multi-user.targetMulti-user, non-graphical. Users can usually login via multiple consoles or via the network., graphical.targetMulti-user, graphical. Usually has all the services of runlevel 3 plus a graphical login., reboot.targetReboot
emergencyemergency.targetEmergency shell

Changing runlevels:

Sysvinit CommandSystemd CommandNotes
telinit 3systemctl isolate (OR systemctl isolate OR telinit 3)Change to multi-user run level.
sed s/^id:.*:initdefault:/id:3:initdefault:/ln -sf /lib/systemd/system/ /etc/systemd/system/default.targetSet to use multi-user runlevel on next reboot.

Kernel Options:

The above systemd targets can be used when booting. At the GRUB menu, edit the selection to add „systemd.unit=target“ (without the double-quotation marks) as a kernel option where target is one of the above. (For example, „“.)

Tip: the „.target“ extention is optional. The „systemd.unit=rescue“ kernel option works the same as „“.


SysVinit to Systemd Cheatsheet