How to Enable /etc/rc.local with Systemd

If you are running a Linux distro that uses Systemd, then you may find that your command in /etc/rc.local file would not run on system boot. This guide explains how to enable /etc/rc.local script to run on system startup.

Enable /etc/rc.local on Systemd

If you type the following command in terminal:

sudo systemctl status rc-local

You may get this output:

 rc-local.service - /etc/rc.local Compatibility
 Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/rc-local.service; static; vendor preset: enabled)
 Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Thu 2015-11-26 23:54:58 CST; 59s ago
 Process: 1001 ExecStart=/etc/rc.local start (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
Nov 26 23:54:57 vivid rc.local[1001]: File "/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/pkg_resources/__init__.py", line 920, in require
Nov 26 23:54:57 vivid rc.local[1001]: needed = self.resolve(parse_requirements(requirements))
Nov 26 23:54:57 vivid rc.local[1001]: File "/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/pkg_resources/__init__.py", line 807, in resolve
Nov 26 23:54:57 vivid rc.local[1001]: raise DistributionNotFound(req)
Nov 26 23:54:57 vivid rc.local[1001]: pkg_resources.DistributionNotFound: shadowsocks==2.8.2
Nov 26 23:54:58 vivid sudo[1008]: pam_unix(sudo:session): session closed for user root
Nov 26 23:54:58 vivid systemd[1]: rc-local.service: control process exited, code=exited status=1
Nov 26 23:54:58 vivid systemd[1]: Failed to start /etc/rc.local Compatibility.
Nov 26 23:54:58 vivid systemd[1]: Unit rc-local.service entered failed state.
Nov 26 23:54:58 vivid systemd[1]: rc-local.service failed.

And if you try to enable /etc/rc.local to run on system boot with the command:

sudo systemctl enable rc-local

You may get:

The unit files have no [Install] section. They are not meant to be enabled
 using systemctl.
 Possible reasons for having this kind of units are:
 1) A unit may be statically enabled by being symlinked from another unit's
 .wants/ or .requires/ directory.
 2) A unit's purpose may be to act as a helper for some other unit which has
 a requirement dependency on it.
 3) A unit may be started when needed via activation (socket, path, timer,
 D-Bus, udev, scripted systemctl call, ...).

The solution

As you can see from above, The unit file have no [Install] section. As such Systemd can not enable it. First we need to create a file:

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/rc-local.service

Then add the following content to it.

[Unit]
 Description=/etc/rc.local Compatibility
 ConditionPathExists=/etc/rc.local

[Service]
 Type=forking
 ExecStart=/etc/rc.local start
 TimeoutSec=0
 StandardOutput=tty
 RemainAfterExit=yes
 SysVStartPriority=99

[Install]
 WantedBy=multi-user.target

Save and close the file. To save a file in Nano text editor, press Ctrl+O, then press Enter to confirm. To exit the file, Press Ctrl+X.  Next, run the following command to make sure /etc/rc.local file is executable.

sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.local

Note: Starting with 16.10, Ubuntu doesn’t ship with /etc/rc.local file anymore. You can create the file by executing this command.

printf '%s\n' '#!/bin/bash' 'exit 0' | sudo tee -a /etc/rc.local

Then add execute permission to /etc/rc.local file.

sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.local

After that, enable the service on system boot:

sudo systemctl enable rc-local

Output:

Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/rc-local.service to /etc/systemd/system/rc-local.service.

Now start the service and check its status:

sudo systemctl start rc-local.service
sudo systemctl status rc-local.service

Output:

● rc-local.service - /etc/rc.local Compatibility
 Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/rc-local.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
 Active: active (running) since Fri 2015-11-27 00:32:56 CST; 14min ago
 Process: 879 ExecStart=/etc/rc.local start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 880 (watch)
 CGroup: /system.slice/rc-local.service

Cron @reboot

If the above method does not work for you, or you just want some simple commands to be executed on system boot, then you can also use the @reboot feature in cron to automatically execute command on system boot. For example, I want my shadowsocks client to auto start, so I open the root user’s cron file:

sudo crontab -e

And put the following line at the end of it.

@reboot /usr/bin/sslocal -c /etc/shadowsocks.json -d start

Save and close the file.

In some Linux distributions such as archlinux, the cron daemon is not enabled by default. So you have to manually enable it. To enable it on archlinux, enter the following command in the terminal.

sudo systemctl enable cronie

Shadowsocks is a socks5 proxy that can be used to bypass Internet firewalls, If you are interested, click the link below to learn how to setup your own shadowsocks server.

Setup your own shadowsocks server on Debian, Ubuntu and Centos

Rate this tutorial
[Total: 60 Average: 3.1]

12 Responses to “How to Enable /etc/rc.local with Systemd

  • Ricardo J. Barberis
    3 years ago

    On CentOS 7 you only have to do:
    # chmod +x /etc/rc.local

    Nothing more, nothing less.

  • thank you so much

  • александр
    10 months ago

    Thank you so much!

  • Olav Alberts
    10 months ago

    Don’t forget the hashpling or `#!/bin/bash` in your rc.local !!
    Missing this will cause an exec / format error.

  • Liz Thompson
    7 months ago

    is this permanent?

    I need something permanent that executes every time the system is started
    $ xinput map-to-output 9 eDP1
    to fix the touch screen from overlapping the external monitor

    and here I thought Linux was a modern OS

  • Néstor Acevedo
    4 months ago

    rc-local.service – /etc/rc.local Compatibility
    Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/rc-local.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
    Drop-In: /lib/systemd/system/rc-local.service.d
    └─debian.conf
    Active: active (exited) since Mon XXXXXXXXX UTC; 42s ago
    Docs: man:systemd-rc-local-generator(8)
    Process: 1881 ExecStart=/etc/rc.local start (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)

    • Hi, please check /etc/rc.local exists and you have added execute permission to it.

      sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.local
      • Néstor Acevedo
        4 months ago

        Already exists and has execute permissions. I forgot to say, it’s Ubuntu 18.04 but I think it doesn’t matter.

        • Peter
          3 weeks ago

          I can run /etc/rc.local from the CLI, and my command runs when I do that, but when I live test it with a reboot, the command does not run. (in my case, I am sending a notify command to my Asterisk server)
          That tells me the rc.local file is executable, and permissions are all ok. But for some reason I can’t get it to run when it is supposed to.
          Making this tricky is that when I reboot, I lose my SSH connection so no way of logging what happens.
          Any suggestions?

  • I also tried it this way. The rebootphones2 file also works if entered manually in the CLI. But when I reboot, it does not occur. Any obvious problems with the syntax? (I also tried this with the command entered directly in the crontab line, but that also did not work)

    [[email protected] ~]# crontab -l
    0 6 * * * /root/reloadasterisk.cron
    @reboot sleep 60 /rebootphones2

Leave a Comment

  • Comments with links are moderated by admin before published.
  • Your email address will not be published.
  • Use <pre> ... </pre> HTML tag to quote the output from your terminal/console.
  • If my answer helped you, please consider supporting this site. Thanks :)