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December 29, 2022 17:32
December 29, 2022 17:32
August 11, 2021 12:16

Elogind User, Seat and Session Manager


Elogind is the systemd project's "logind", extracted out to be a standalone daemon. It integrates with PAM to know the set of users that are logged in to a system and whether they are logged in graphically, on the console, or remotely. Elogind exposes this information via the standard org.freedesktop.login1 D-Bus interface, as well as through the file system using systemd's standard /run/systemd layout. Elogind also provides "libelogind", which is a subset of the facilities offered by "libsystemd". There is a "libelogind.pc" pkg-config file as well.

All of the credit for elogind should go to the systemd developers.
For more on systemd, see
All of the blame should go to Andy Wingo, who extracted elogind from systemd.
All complaints should go to Sven Eden, who is maintaining elogind. But you could also Buy Him A Coffee instead if you like elogind and want to say thanks.

Build Status

  • CI Status main : elogind CI Status main
  • CI Status v246-stable: elogind CI Status v246-stable
  • CI Status v252-stable: elogind CI Status v252-stable


Elogind was branched from systemd version 219, and preserves the git history of the systemd project. The version of elogind is the upstream systemd version, followed by the patchlevel of elogind. For example version 219.12 is the twelfth elogind release, which aims to provide a subset of the interfaces of systemd 219.

To contribute to elogind, fork the current source code from github:
Send a pull request for the changes you like.

If you do not have a github account, the elogind wiki page at lists further possibilities to contact the maintainers.

To chat about elogind: #elogind on freenode

Bug reports should go to:

Why bother?

Elogind has been developed for use in Guix System, the OS distribution of GNU Guix. See for more on Guix. Guix System uses a specific init manager (GNU Shepherd), for reasons that are not relevant here, but still aims to eventually be a full-featured distribution that can run GNOME and other desktop environments. However, to run GNOME these days means that you need to have support for the login1 D-Bus interface, which is currently only provided by systemd. That is the origin of this project: to take the excellent logind functionality from systemd and provide it as a standalone package.

You're welcome to use elogind for whatever purpose you like -- as-is, or as a jumping-off point for other things -- but please don't use it as part of some anti-systemd vendetta. We are appreciative of the systemd developers logind effort and think that everyone deserves to run it if they like. No matter what kind of PID1 they use.

Differences relative to systemd

The pkg-config file is called libelogind, not libsystemd or libsystemd-logind.

The headers are in <elogind/...>, like <elogind/sd-login.h> instead of <systemd/sd-login.h>.
To make it easier for projects to add support for elogind, there is a subfolder "systemd" in the elogind include directory. So if pkg-config is used to get the cflags, including <systemd/sd-login.h> will still work.

Libelogind just implements login-related functionality. It also provides the sd-bus API.

Unlike systemd, whose logind arranges to manage resources for user sessions via RPC calls to systemd, in elogind there is no systemd so there is no global cgroup-based resource management. This has a few implications:

  • Elogind does not create "slices" for users. Elogind will not record that users are associated with slices.
  • The /run/systemd/slices directory will always be empty.
  • Elogind does not have the concept of a "scope", internally, as it's the same as a session. Any API that refers to scopes will always return an error code.

On the other hand, elogind does use a similar strategy to systemd in that it places processes in a private cgroup for organizational purposes, without installing any controllers (see This allows elogind to map arbitrary processes to sessions, even if the process does the usual double-fork to be reparented to PID 1.

Elogind does not manage virtual terminals.

Elogind does monitor power button and the lid switch, like systemd, but instead of doing RPC to systemd to suspend, poweroff, or restart the machine, elogind just does this directly. For suspend, hibernate, and hybrid-sleep, elogind uses the same code as systemd-sleep. Instead of using a separate sleep.conf file to configure the sleep behavior, this is included in the [Sleep] section of /etc/elogind/login.conf. See the example login.conf for more.
For shutdown, reboot, and kexec, elogind shells out to halt, reboot and kexec binaries.

The loginctl command has the poweroff, reboot, suspend, hibernate, hybrid-sleep and suspend-then-hibernate commands from systemd, as well as the --ignore-inhibitors flag.

The PAM module is called, not

Elogind and the running cgroup controller

While meson runs, it will detect which controller is in place. If no controller is in place, configure will determine, that elogind should be its own controller, which will be a very limited one.

This approach should generally work, but if you just have no cgroup controller in place, yet, or if you are currently switching to another one, this approach will fail.

In this case you can do one of the two following things:

  1. Boot your system with the target init system and cgroup controller, before configuring and building elogind, or
  2. Use the --with-cgroup-controller=name option.

Example: If you plan to use openrc, but openrc has not yet booted the machine, you can use
to let elogind know that openrc will be the controller in charge.

However, if you set the controller at configure time to something different than what is in place, elogind will not start until that controller is actively used as the primary controller.

ABI compatibility with libsystemd

Basically all symbols are included. But any API calls that require to call systemd, or need internal knowledge of systemd, are simple stubs. They are there to provide ABI compatibility, but will not work.

One exception is sd_is_mq() that is found in sd-daemon.h. This is the only place using POSIX message queues, which would add further dependencies. As those would be completely unused in the rest of elogind, this function is also a stub, and always returns -ENOSYS.


LGPLv2.1+ for all code

  • except src/basic/MurmurHash2.c which is Public Domain
  • except src/basic/siphash24.c which is CC0 Public Domain


  • glibc >= 2.16 (or musl-libc >= 1.1.20)
  • libcap
  • libudev
  • PAM >= 1.1.2 (optional)
  • libacl (optional)
  • libselinux (optional)
  • libaudit (optional)
  • pkg-config
  • gperf >= 3.1
  • docbook-xsl (optional, required for documentation)
  • xsltproc (optional, required for documentation)
  • python-lxml (optional, required to build the indices)
  • python, meson, ninja
  • gcc, awk, sed, grep, m4, and similar tools

During runtime, you need the following additional dependencies:

  • util-linux >= v2.27.1 required
  • dbus >= 1.9.14 (strictly speaking optional, but recommended)
    NOTE: If using dbus < 1.9.18, you should override the default
    policy directory (--with-dbuspolicydir=/etc/dbus-1/system.d).
  • PolicyKit (optional)

To build in directory build/:
meson build/ && ninja -C build

If you plan to use a build directory outside the source tree, make sure that it is not too 'far away'. To detect broken setups, some compiler magic is included to check whether the relative path to the sources is shorter than the absolute path to each source file. So if you get an error like error: size of array 'x' is negative when the macro assert_cc(STRLEN(FILE) > STRLEN(RELATIVE_SOURCE_PATH) + 1); is expanded, put your build directory nearer to the source tree.

Any configuration options can be specified as -Darg=value... arguments to meson. After the build directory is initially configured, the configuration can be changed with:
meson configure -Darg=value... build/
meson configure without any arguments will print out available options and their current values.

Useful commands:

  • ninja -v some/target
  • ninja test
  • sudo ninja install
  • DESTDIR=... ninja install
  • make DEBUG=YES
    The Makefile is a full convenience wrapper, that allows to use meson/ninja in
    Makefile compatible IDEs like CLion.
    Note: For maximum control you should use meson/ninja directly instead.

A tarball can be created with:
git archive --format=tar --prefix=elogind-241/ v241 | xz > elogind-241.tar.xz

Many thanks to JetBrains and their "Licenses for Open Source Development" program, providing free licenses for

CLion by JetBrains