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How to Enable /etc/rc.local with Systemd

rc.local with systemd

If you are running a Linux distro that use 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 start.

The problem

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/", 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/", 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 vi /etc/systemd/system/rc-local.service

Then add the following content to it.

 Description=/etc/rc.local Compatibility

 ExecStart=/etc/rc.local start


Save and close the file. Make sure /etc/rc.local file is executable.

sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.local

After that, enable the service on system boot:

sudo systemctl enable rc-local


Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/ 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


● 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

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  • Ricardo J. Barberis

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

    Nothing more, nothing less.