Services are software running in the background and providing, as their name suggests, various services to other software: access to specific system hardware, connectivity management, and network servers. Services can be split into 2 categories:

Basic requirements

The only mandatory requirement is that service packages provide a .service file so they can be properly managed by systemd. This file must be installed to a specific location, determined by the service type (system or user):

Below is an example of a simple system service that requires the compositor to be already running before the service starts:



The Restart=on-failure directive ensures the service will be automatically restarted by systemd in case it crashes.

More details about systemd service files can be found in the systemd documentation.

D-Bus activation

Services can also provide a D-Bus interface. In this case, they need not be started on system boot (or user session startup in the case of user services) but can be automatically started only when a client sends a request to the D-Bus name the service registers.

D-Bus activated services must name their systemd service file dbus-NAME.service where NAME is the D-Bus name registered by the service. This file must include the following lines:


In addition, they must provide a D-Bus service file named NAME.service and installed to one of the following locations:

The contents of the D-Bus service file must be the following:

[D-BUS Service]

This ensures the service can be safely activated through D-Bus and no conflict will occur between systemd and the D-Bus daemon.

More details about D-Bus activation can be found in the D-Bus specification, under the "Message Bus Starting Services (Activation)" section.

Services startup

For D-Bus activated services, no additional action is required as those will be automatically started whenever needed. Other services, however, need a few more steps in order to be executed on system or session startup.

System services

System services can take advantage of the Yocto systemd class which automates the process of enabling such services.

1. Ensure the recipe inherits from the systemd class:

inherit systemd

2. Declare the system services that needs to be enabled on boot:


3. Ensure the FILES variable includes the systemd service directory the corresponding file will be installed to:

FILES:${PN} = "\
    ${systemd_system_unitdir}/* \

User services

The systemd class doesn't provide an equivalent mechanism for user services. This must therefore be done manually as part of the package's install process.

1. Make the service a part of the user session:

do_install:append() {
    install -d ${D}${systemd_user_unitdir}/
    ln -s ../NAME.service ${D}${systemd_user_unitdir}/

This ensures depends on NAME.service, the latter being therefore automatically started on session creation.

2. Ensure the FILES variable includes the systemd service directory the corresponding file will be installed to:

FILES:${PN} = "\
    ${systemd_user_unitdir}/* \