Supervisor: A System for Allowing the Control of Process State on UNIX


The supervisor is a client/server system that allows its users to control a number of processes on UNIX-like operating systems. It was inspired by the following:

  • It is often inconvenient to need to write "rc.d" scripts for every single process instance. rc.d scripts are a great lowest-common-denominator form of process initialization/autostart/management, but they can be painful to write and maintain. Additionally, rc.d scripts cannot automatically restart a crashed process and many programs do not restart themselves properly on a crash. Supervisord starts processes as its subprocesses, and can be configured to automatically restart them on a crash. It can also automatically be configured to start processes on its own invocation.
  • It's often difficult to get accurate up/down status on processes on UNIX. Pidfiles often lie. Supervisord starts processes as subprocesses, so it always knows the true up/down status of its children and can be queried conveniently for this data.
  • Users who need to control process state often need only to do that. They don't want or need full-blown shell access to the machine on which the processes are running. Supervisorctl allows a very limited form of access to the machine, essentially allowing users to see process status and control supervisord-controlled subprocesses by emitting "stop", "start", and "restart" commands from a simple shell or web UI.
  • Users often need to control processes on many machines. Supervisor provides a simple, secure, and uniform mechanism for interactively and automatically controlling processes on groups of machines.
  • Processes which listen on "low" TCP ports often need to be started and restarted as the root user (a UNIX misfeature). It's usually the case that it's perfectly fine to allow "normal" people to stop or restart such a process, but providing them with shell access is often impractical, and providing them with root access or sudo access is often impossible. It's also (rightly) difficult to explain to them why this problem exists. If supervisord is started as root, it is possible to allow "normal" users to control such processes without needing to explain the intricacies of the problem to them.
  • Processes often need to be started and stopped in groups, sometimes even in a "priority order". It's often difficult to explain to people how to do this. Supervisor allows you to assign priorities to processes, and allows user to emit commands via the supervisorctl client like "start all", and "restart all", which starts them in the preassigned priority order. Additionally, processes can be grouped into "process groups" and a set of logically related processes can be stopped and started as a unit.

Supported Platforms

Supervisor has been tested and is known to run on Linux (Ubuntu Dapper), Mac OS X (10.4), and Solaris (10 for Intel) and FreeBSD 6.1. It will likely work fine on most UNIX systems.

Supervisor will not run at all under any version of Windows.

Supervisor is known to work with Python 2.3.3 or better, and it may work with Python 2.3.0, Python 2.3.1 and Python 2.3.2 (although these have not been tested). It will not work under Python versions 2.2 or before.


You can view the current Supervisor documentation online "in html format": . This is where you should go for detailed installation and configuration documentation.

XXX We need some way of getting people the entire docs set without needing to read it via HTML online.

Mailing list, Reporting Bugs, and Viewing the Source Repository

You may subscribe to the 'Supervisor-users' "mailing list":

Please report bugs at "the collector": .

XXX get a better bugtracker

You can view the source repository for supervisor via""

A Bazaar mirror can be found in "Launchpad":


If you'd like to contribute to supervisor directly, please contact the "supervisor-users mailing list":

Author Information

Chris McDonough ( "Agendaless Consulting":