Services and daemons

When creating snapcraft.yaml to build a new snap, a snap’s executable component can be either exposed as a command or run as a background service or daemon.

For details on how to expose an executable from its constituent parts, see Defining a command.

A snap daemon or service behaves the same as a native daemon or service, and will either start automatically at boot time and end when the machine is shutdown, or start and stop on demand through socket activation.

Snap confinement prohibits a system’s users and groups from running as traditional services might, such as under a user’s ownership. But a daemon user and group can alternatively be created within a snap to provide similar user and group level control outside of a snap’s confinement. See System usernames for more details.

See Service management for details on starting and stopping services from the snap command. Services and daemons can also be managed from within a snap, such as via a hook, with the snapctl.

To set memory and CPU resource limits for a service or daemon, see Quota groups

If you need to add user configurable options to your service or daemon, such as which port it should use, see Adding snap configuration.

Defining a daemon

To define an executable as a daemon or service, add daemon: simple to its apps stanza:

    command: bin/
    daemon: simple

The value for daemon: can be one of the following:

  • simple Run for as along as the service is active - this is typically the default option.
  • oneshot Run once and exit after completion, notifying systemd. After completion, the daemon is still considered active and running.
  • forking The configured command calls fork() as part of its start-up and the parent process is then expected to exit when start-up is complete. This isn’t the recommended behaviour on a modern Linux system.
  • notify Assumes the command will send a signal to systemd to indicate its running state. Note this requires usage of the daemon-notify interface.

In addition to the above types of daemon or service, the following can be set to help manage how a service is run, how it can be stopped, and what should happen after it stops:

  • after An ordered list of applications the daemon is to be started after. Applications must be part of the same snap.
  • before An ordered list of applications the daemon is to be started before. Applications must be part of the same snap.
  • install-mode Defines whether a freshly installed daemon is started automatically, or whether startup control is deferred to the snap. The snap could then use snapctl with a hook, for instance, or another management agent. Can be enable (default) or disable.
  • post-stop-command Sets the command to run from inside the snap after a service stops.
  • refresh-mode Controls whether a daemon should be restarted during a snap refresh. Can be either restart , endure, (do not restart) or ignore-running (does not refresh running services to facilitate the refresh app awareness feature). Defaults to restart .
  • reload-command Defines the command within the snap to be executed when a service needs to be restarted or reloaded after a configuration change, as initiated with the snap restart --reload command.
    Example: reload-command: sbin/nginx -s reload
  • restart-condition Defines when a service should be restarted, using values returned from systemd service exit status. Can be one of [on-failure|on-success|on-abnormal|on-abort|on-watchdog|always|never].
  • restart-delay The delay between service restarts. Defaults to unset. See the systemd.service manual on RestartSec for details. Time duration units can be 10ns, 10us, 10ms, 10s, 10m.
  • sockets Requires an activated daemon socket, and works with the network-bind interface to map a daemon’s socket to a service and activate it.
  • socket-mode The mode of a socket in octal.
  • start-timeout Optional time to wait for daemon to start. Time duration units can be 10ns, 10us, 10ms, 10s, 10m.
  • stop-command An optional executable command to run before the daemon is stopped, and the daemon is not stopped until the specified stop-command terminates. This can be to used to gracefully handle a daemon stop or restart, such as when a refresh happens, by allowing the daemon to reach a stoppable state first.
  • stop-mode Defines which termination signal to use when stopping the daemon. Can be one of either sigterm, sigterm-all, sighup, sighup-all, sigusr1, sigusr1-all, sigusr2, sigusr2-all, sigint and sigint-all .
  • stop-timeout The length of time to wait before terminating a service. Time duration units can be 10ns, 10us, 10ms, 10s, 10m. Termination is via SIGTERM (and SIGKILL if that doesn’t work).
  • timer Declares that the service is activated by a timer and that the app must be a daemon. See Timer string format for syntax examples.
  • watchdog-timeout This value declares the service watchdog timeout. For watchdog to work, the application requires access to the systemd notification socket, which can be declared by listing a daemon-notify plug in the plugs section. Time duration units can be 10ns, 10us, 10ms, 10s, 10m.

For further details, see Snapcraft app and service metadata.

Daemons and D-Bus

Daemons can configured to interact with D-Bus in a number of ways. D-Bus can be used to indicate to systemd that a daemon is running, it can be used as the mechanism to activate a daemon, and it can be used generally to expose services to applications.

D-Bus activation can only be used for services on the system bus.

Daemon type

The daemon keyword is used to specify the type of a daemon and the mechanism it uses to inform systemd that it is running.

A daemon can be configured to use D-Bus to notify systemd that it is running by claiming a D-Bus name. This behaviour is enabled by setting the daemon keyword to a value of dbus in the app metadata.

Daemons that use D-Bus in other ways that do not need this feature can set the daemon type to a value other than dbus. This enables other methods to be used to indicate to systemd that they are running.

If the dbus type is used, either the bus-name keyword or activates-on keyword must be used to define a bus name for the daemon. If both keywords are defined, the bus name takes precedence. If only the activates-on keyword is defined, the last name in its list of slots is used as the bus name.


The activates-on keyword is used to define a list of names that will be exposed via D-Bus. These names are automatically added to the slots for the snap.

This provides a way for a daemon to be started on a D-Bus method call. When a method on any of the names is invoked, the daemon’s command is run to start the daemon.

General use

A daemon that needs to provide services to applications can be configured to use a bus name by setting its bus-name keyword. This enables the system bus to be used for communication, as with regular system daemons.

As noted above, the daemon keyword does not need to specify the dbus type for this use case, unless it is convenient to notify systemd about start-up by claiming a D-Bus name.

Last updated 3 months ago.