1. Chris Webb
  2. init


Arachsys init

This is the lightweight BSD-style init and syslog system used in Arachsys
Linux. It includes a number of small utilities, described below.


FreeBSD has included a useful daemon(8) since 5.0-RELEASE in early 2003.
This is a Linux-specific reimplementation which supports the same options as
the FreeBSD version, together with some additional features to make it a
more useful building-block for simple dependency-based parallel execution
during system boot.

Its basic purpose is to detach from the controlling terminal and execute a
command (specified by its arguments) as a background daemon. In common with
the original, it has options to change to the root directory before
starting, to lock, write and remove a pidfile on behalf of the command, to
restart the command when it exits, and to drop privileges to a different
user and group before execution. This version can also start a logger
process to send output to syslog and uses inotify to implement simple
dependencies, waiting for specified filesystem paths to be created before
starting the command. (Typically this is used with pidfiles or unix sockets
in /run.)


The init utility is meant to be run by the kernel as process 1. Upon
startup, it forks and executes the /etc/rc.startup script to bring up the

Once /etc/rc.startup has finished, init handles SIGCHLD and calls waitpid()
for all of its children. Being the first process, it automatically adopts
any orphan processes whose natural parent has died, and is therefore
responsible for reaping them to avoid the build-up of zombie-processes.

On receipt of SIGINT, init forks and executes /etc/rc.shutdown. Once this
script has exited, it reboots the system. It responds similarly to SIGTERM,
SIGUSR1 and SIGUSR2, in each case waiting for /etc/rc.shutdown to finish
before (respectively) executing a single-user shell, halting the system, or

Convenience shell scripts for the 'reboot', 'single', 'halt' and 'poweroff'
actions are installed alongside init. Each of these just sends the
appropriate signal to process 1.

syslog and syslogd

This little system logger daemon takes a rather different approach to its
mainstream competitors, more in keeping with the Unix 'toolkit' philosophy.

syslog reads messages as they arrive at /var/log and /proc/kmsg, printing
them to stdout in a format carefully chosen for ease of handling in a
shell-script read loop. For convenience, if syslog is provided with
arguments, it will run them as a command in a child process and pipe its
output to this command instead of stdout.

Each line of output consists of five space-separated fields:

  - facility name: daemon, kern, authpriv, etc.
  - numeric log level from 0 (LOG_EMERG) to 7 (LOG_DEBUG)
  - date in the format YYYY-MM-DD
  - time in the 24-hour format HH:MM:SS
  - the log message itself

Dates and times are given in UTC rather than local time unless syslog.c was
compiled with -DUTC=0.

A simple syslogd script which wraps syslog is installed with it, together
with fsync and fdatasync programs which can be used to fsync() or
fdatasync() low-volume log files to ensure they are committed safely to disk
after lines have been written.

uevent and ueventd

The kernel notifies userspace of device creation with uevents sent to
clients listening on a NETLINK_KOBJECT_UEVENT sockets. As they arrive,
uevent lists the uevent properties to stdout in a simple space-separated
key/value format with a blank line terminating the record. This format is
carefully chosen for easy of handling in a shell-script read loop.  For
convenience, if uevent is provided with arguments, it will run them as a
command in a child process and pipe its output to this command instead of

An example uevent property list for a newly created disk device is

  ACTION add
  DEVPATH /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1f.2/ata1/host0/target0:0:0/0:0:0:0/block/sda
  DEVTYPE disk
  SEQNUM 5561

DEVPATH is the path within the sysfs mount for the relevant device, and
DEVNAME (if set) is the path of the kernel-created device node in devtmpfs.
Network interfaces will instead have an INTERFACE property with their name
that was allocated by the kernel.

A simple ueventd script to handle uevent output is installed with it, as
cleaner, more flexible replacement for udev. To use this, define bash
functions add(), remove(), change(), etc. (matching the uevent ACTION types)
in /etc/ueventd.conf, which is sourced by the script on start. The event()
shell function is also called for all events, with the ACTION and DEVPATH in
its first two arguments.

All of the shell functions defined in /etc/ueventd.conf will be called with
the uevent environment list (properties) in an associative array ENV
together with the most commonly accessed properties in the shell variables
SYSPATH is also set to the absolute path of the device directory, i.e.
${SYSFS}${DEVPATH} where $SYSFS is typically /sys.

Building and installing

Unpack the source tar.gz file and change to the unpacked directory.

Run 'make', then 'make install' to install the scripts and binaries in /bin.
Alternatively, you can set DESTDIR and/or BINDIR to install in a different
location, or strip and copy the compiled binaries and scripts into the
correct place manually.

Arachsys init was developed on GNU/Linux and is unlikely to be portable to
other platforms as it uses a number of Linux-specific facilities. Please
report any problems or bugs to Chris Webb <chris@arachsys.com>.


Arachsys init was written by Chris Webb <chris@arachsys.com> and is
distributed as Free Software under the terms of the MIT license in COPYING.