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systemd services

This repository includes systemd services that I wrote because I was not satisfied with the provided ones or there simply were none.


I'm a linux administrator for about 6+ years and have been using linux for 15+ years, but I'm no kernel developer and some of the options to sandbox the service I use, I only understand to a degree. This is mostly true for some of the options that remove access to some part of the system, but where the documentation is clear that no service should ever need them.


Please do contribute! Issues and pull requests are welcome.


The goal with all services is to use modern systemd settings and as much sandboxing as possible. I say modern as in, using a better way if there is one, for something that has been done the same way for 20 years. I'm not saying to replace everything with something new, just because it is new and may not even offer anything over the established way. The following explanations may include exaggerations about how bad it was before, these are a combination of facts and tears.

Some of the sandboxing options remove abilities from services that unprivileged users don't have access to anyway. These are just an additional layer of security in case they obtain these abilities in some other way.

Avoid Type=forking

The forking Type is the behavior of traditional UNIX services, were systemd starts a process which then forks to start the actual binary. Often you need to specify a PIDFile= or systemd will loose track of the correct process.

This is often used with some archaic bash startup scripts that were last updated in 1997. These scripts set a few environment variables, maybe check the existence of a directory or config file and run start-stop-daemon with an incomprehensible list of parameters. All these things can be done directly in the service file in a few lines, instead of hundred of lines of bash.

What we want to achieve is to run the binary, that contains the programm, directly with ExecStart=. The Type we want to use is Type=exec (with systemd >= 240) or Type=simple (with systemd < 240). The difference is described here, in short Type=exec has one more check that the service is started correctly than Type=simple.

Another benefit of running the binary directly is that we can see stdout and stderr inside journald or when we run systemd status. Some services output logs or status messages to stdout which just get lost when using Type=forking.

Avoid running as root

For obvious reasons we normally don't want our services to run as root and be able to do everything. Many services don't need any administrative privileges and are happy running as an unprivileged process. These can be achieved with the User= and Group= options.

Some services do need some administrative privileges (called capabilities in the linux kernel), but we can give them everything they need without them running as root. This is where AmbientCapabilities= comes into play. With this option we can include needed capabilities into the process.

For example with AmbientCapabilities=CAP_DAC_READ_SEARCH we can give a service the permission to read every file and open every directory in the filesystem without beeing able to modify them. Great for backup services like my borg service.

Prevent unintended changes to the system

There are many options which remove some abilities for a service to change things in the system.


Requires systemd version 238 or higher. This can be used to hide the entire filesystem tree from the service. You can than use BindReadOnlyPaths= and BindPaths= to add files and directories that the application needs access to. This seems to be a secure and modern approach to what many people abused chroot for. When using systemd 237 or lower you can archive something similar with RootDirectory= but this uses chroot and chroot was never meant to be a security boundary.


This makes the whole filesystems read-only to the process (/dev, /proc and /sys are exempt), even if it would run as root. I combine this with ReadWritePaths= to make some paths of the filesystem writeable again, if the service needs them. All paths listed inside ReadWritePaths= must exists or the service will refuse to start with a very cryptic error message. Do not use this in combination with TemporaryFileSystem=/:ro, it will mount the entire filesystem tree over the emtpy one, giving the service access to everything again.


Makes the Linux Control Groups hierarchies accessible through /sys/fs/cgroup read-only.


Makes the kernel variables accessible through /proc/sys, /sys, /proc/sysrq-trigger, /proc/latency_stats, /proc/acpi, /proc/timer_stats, /proc/fs and /proc/irq read-only.


Removes the ability to change the system hostname.


Removes the ability to change the system clock or hardware clock.

Prevent unnecessary access to the system

Some parts of the system are not needed by most services to be accessible at all, so we make them inaccessible.


Makes the directories /home, /root, and /run/user inaccessible for the service. When I create user accounts for the services I create the home directory outside of /home, normally inside /srv to not take away the users own home directory. Not needed with TemporaryFileSystem=/:ro.


Creates a private /tmp directory just for the service. It can write files to it, but can't access any files in the "real" /tmp directory. Additionally the private /tmp will be deleted when the service stops. Will also mount the /tmp directory inside TemporaryFileSystem=/:ro.


Creates a private /dev directory just for the service. Only /dev/null, /dev/zero and /dev/random are added to this private /dev. This blocks raw access to physical devices like the harddrive and system memory. Will also mount the devices inside TemporaryFileSystem=/:ro.


Remove the ability to access the kernel log ring buffer.


This basically removes network access for the service. It does so by hiding all network interfaces from the service and only giving it access to a private localhost interface. The localhost interface will not contain traffic from the "real" localhost interface.


Prevent the service from loading additional kernel modules.


Creates a private User/Group database for the service that only includes nobody and root. All files not owned by root will look like they are owned by nobody for the service. This options sometimes breaks services when the service needs to changes users for example.

Reduce attack surface

These options disable exotic or old and unnecessary features.

RestrictAddressFamilies=AF_UNIX AF_INET AF_INET6

Restricts the set of socket address families that the service can create/use. The linux kernel knows a lot of sockets that most service don't need and I never heard of. AF_UNIX allows the use for local communications like syslog, AF_INET AF_INET6 allows "normal" network access over IPv4/IPv6. The only other family I ever needed to add was AF_NETLINK for sending mails with sendmail for some services.


This options prevents the service from ever getting more privileges than it had when it started. This is redundant since many of the other options also enable this option. But I like to add it explicity to be reminded that it exists.


This options restricts the service to only be able to call native system calls. Most systems nowadays are x86-64 (64 bit) and this options disables all systems calls for other architectures like x86 (32 bit). Being able to use older system calls like those for 32 bit systems allows the circumvention of some of the here listed sandbox features.

You can also set this as a global option for all services running on the system. To do that, add SystemCallArchitectures=native to /etc/systemd/system.conf. That's what I'm doing and would recommend for everyone, but I included the option in the service files here for people who only copy and paste without reading the README.


Prevent the service from creating memory mappings that are writable and executable at the same time. This makes it harder for software exploits to change running code dynamically. This is the option I most often have to disable because it breaks some part of the programm.


Prevents the service from setting the SUID or SGID bits on files and directories. SUID and SGID can be used to elevate privileges and most programms don't need to set them.


Prevent the service to enable realtime scheduling. This can be used clog up CPU and lead to a Denial-of-Service.


If set, locks down the personality system call so that the kernel execution domain may not be changed from the default or the personality selected with Personality= directive. I copied the explanation directly from the systemd documentaion, because this is the option I understand the least. It can improve security and sometimes breaks the service. I just turn it on and see if everything is still working.



Clean up leftover IPC objects after the service stops. This stops the service from using some system resources after it was stopped. Also something I only understand barely, but seems to be useful. When in doubt just remove it, but for the services I created here it doesn't cause any problems.


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