HarryPehkonen edited this page Sep 24, 2012 · 6 revisions
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This project creates a wrapper executable that can be used to host any executable as an Windows service.


The binaries are available here for download. That’s compiled from this version, and is probably newer.


During your development…

  1. Take winsw.exe from the distribution, and rename it to your taste (such as myapp.exe)
  2. Write myapp.xml (see Configuration Syntax for more details)
  3. Place those two files side by side when you deploy your application, because that’s how winsw.exe discovers its configuration.

At runtime…

  • To install a service, run myapp.exe install
  • To start a service, run myapp.exe start
  • To stop a service, run myapp.exe stop
  • To restart a service, run myapp.exe restart
  • To uninstall a service, run myapp.exe uninstall

When there’s a problem, these commands also report an error message to stderr. On a successful completion, these commands do no produce any output and exit with 0.

In addition, you can also run myapp.exe status to have it print out the current status of the service to stdout. Again, any error encountered during the processing would cause output to be reported to stderr.

All these commands use the same set of exit code to indicate its result.

Deferred File Operations

To support self updating services, winsw offers a mechanism to perform file operations before a service start up. This is often necessary because Windows prevents files from overwritten while it’s in use.

To perform file operations, write a text file (in the UTF-8 encoding) at myapp.copies (that is, it’s in the same directory as myapp.xml but with a different file extension), and for each operation add one line:

  • To move a file, write “src>dst”. If the ‘dst’ file already exists it will be overwritten.

The success or failure of these operations will be recorded in the event log.

Once done, the myapp.copies file will be deleted.

Contributions Welcome

If you are interested in joining the project, let me know. I’m always interested in more committers.