OpenRC

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This article has some todo items:
  • Review for accuracy & test.
  • Complete to cover most basic usage under Gentoo.
  • Rework for precision, readability, concision...
  • #BusyBox_integration needs testing and documenting (or removing).

OpenRC is a dependency-based init system for Unix-like systems that maintains compatibility with the system-provided init system, normally located in /sbin/init. OpenRC is Gentoo's native init system, although other init systems are available.

OpenRC will start necessary system services in the correct order at boot, manage them while the system is in use, and stop them at shutdown. It can manage daemons installed from the Gentoo repository, can optionally supervise the processes it launches, and has an the possibility to start processes in parallel - when possible - to shorten boot time.

OpenRC was developed for Gentoo, but is designed to be used in other Linux distributions and BSD systems. By default, OpenRC is invoked by sysvinit, on Gentoo.

Daemons installed from outside the Gentoo repository, e.g. software downloaded as source code and compiled manually, may sometimes need to be adapted to work with OpenRC (which is sometimes trivial).

Note
See the OpenRC documentation section for links to the documentation provided by the OpenRC project itself. See the Handbook for information on how OpenRC works with the init system.

Implementation

OpenRC does not require large, fundamental, changes to the traditional Unix-like system. OpenRC integrates with other system software as a component of of a modular and flexible system. It is designed to be fast, lightweight, easily configurable, and adaptable. OpenRC has only a few basic dependencies, on core system components.

As a modern init system, OpenRC provides a number of useful features:

  • cgroups support.
  • Process supervision.
  • Dependency-based launch, with parallel startup of services.
  • Automatic resolving, and ordering, of dependencies.
  • Hardware initiated initscripts.
  • Setting ulimit and nice values per service through the rc_ulimit variable.
  • Permits complex init scripts that start multiple components.
  • Modular architecture, fitting into existing infrastructure.
  • OpenRC has its own optional init system called openrc-init, see OpenRC/openrc-init for details.
  • OpenRC has its own optional process supervisor, see OpenRC/supervise-daemon for details.


See the comparison of init systems article for more information on init systems.

Installation

OpenRC generally does not need installing manually, and is provided as part of an OpenRC profile on installation. It will be present in the stage 3 tarball, and will be maintained across system updates.

USE flags

USE flags for sys-apps/openrc OpenRC manages the services, startup and shutdown of a host

audit Enable support for Linux audit subsystem using sys-process/audit
bash enable the use of bash in service scripts (experimental)
debug Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/Project:Quality_Assurance/Backtraces
ncurses Add ncurses support (console display library)
netifrc enable Gentoo's network stack (net.* scripts)
newnet enable the new network stack (experimental)
pam Add support for PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules)DANGEROUS to arbitrarily flip
selinux !!internal use only!! Security Enhanced Linux support, this must be set by the selinux profile or breakage will occur
sysv-utils Install sysvinit compatibility scripts for halt, init, poweroff, reboot and shutdown
unicode Add support for Unicode

If the USE flags are modified, the package may be rebuilt to apply changes. For OpenRC profiles, sys-apps/openrc is pulled in as a dependency of virtual/service-manager, thus it should never be added to the selected-packages set (/var/lib/portage/world file) - the --oneshot option avoids adding OpenRC to this set.

root #emerge --ask --oneshot sys-apps/openrc

Configuration

Files

/etc/rc.conf
The global OpenRC configuration file.
Includes extensive comments documenting OpenRC configuration.
/etc/conf.d
Contains configuration files for individual initscripts.

Logging

OpenRC doesn't log anything by default. To log OpenRC's output during boot, uncomment and set the rc_logger option in /etc/rc.conf. The log will be saved at /var/log/rc.log by default.

FILE /etc/rc.conf
rc_logger="YES"
#rc_log_path="/var/log/rc.log"

Network management

OpenRC can be used with one of several network managers or even with none. By default, with Gentoo's OpenRC profiles, netifrc scripts are utilized to manage network connections.

See the Network manager article for a list of options on network management.

Dependency behavior

Changing the default dependencies of init scripts, might be needed to fit more complex setups. See /etc/rc.conf for how to change the default behavior; notice the rc_depend_strict option. In addition, next networking examples show how flexible OpenRC can be.

Multiple network interfaces (example)

The SSH service must come up with the internal network, for instance eth0 and never wlan0.

Overrule the "net" dependency from /etc/init.d/sshd, and refine it to depend on "net.eth0":

FILE /etc/conf.d/sshd
rc_need="!net net.eth0"
Multiple network interfaces in multiple runlevels (example)

The SSH service must start with eth0 (not wlan0) in "default" runlevel, but in "office" runlevel it must start with wlan0 (not eth0).

Keep the default:

FILE /etc/rc.conf
#rc_depend_strict="YES"

Make additional symlinks to sshd with the network interface names:

root #ln -s sshd /etc/init.d/sshd.eth0
root #ln -s sshd /etc/init.d/sshd.wlan0

Settings are read from /etc/conf.d/sshd.eth0 and /etc/conf.d/sshd.wlan0 now:

root #cp /etc/conf.d/sshd /etc/conf.d/sshd.eth0
root #cp /etc/conf.d/sshd /etc/conf.d/sshd.wlan0

Add the dependencies:

root #echo 'rc_need="!net net.eth0"' >> /etc/conf.d/sshd.eth0
root #echo 'rc_need="!net net.wlan0"' >> /etc/conf.d/sshd.wlan0

In this example net.eth0 and net.wlan0 read their settings from /etc/conf.d/net, or /etc/conf.d/net.office depending on the active runlevel. Add all runscripts to the different runlevels:

root #rc-update add sshd.eth0 default
root #rc-update add sshd.wlan0 office
root #rc-update add net.eth0 default office
root #rc-update add net.wlan0 default office

To switch between "default" runlevel and "office" runlevel without rebooting the computer, change to "nonetwork" runlevel in between. The network interfaces will be stopped this way, and re-read their runlevel specific configuration. This works best when "nonetwork" is a stacked runlevel in both the "default" and "office" runlevels, and the display manager and other non-network services are added to the "nonetwork" runlevel only.

default runlevel <---> nonetwork runlevel <---> office runlevel
root #rc nonetwork && rc office
root #rc nonetwork && rc default

Selecting a specific runlevel at boot

OpenRC reads the kernel command-line used at boot time, and will start the runlevel specified by the softlevel parameter if provided. If no softlevel parameter is provided, the default runlevel will be used.

The following example shows a grub configuration allowing to choose to boot into either the default or nonetwork runlevels:

FILE /boot/grub/grub.confExample grub.conf (GRUB Legacy)
title=Regular Start-up

kernel (hd0,0)/boot/kernel-3.7.10-gentoo-r1 root=/dev/sda3

title=Start without Networking

kernel (hd0,0)/boot/kernel-3.7.10-gentoo-r1 root=/dev/sda3 softlevel=nonetwork

Usage

Runlevels

OpenRC can be controlled and configured using openrc, rc-update and rc-status commands.

Delete a service from default runlevel, where <service> is the name of the service to be removed:

root #rc-update delete <service> default

Listing

Listing commands do not need to be ran as root.

Use rc-update show -v to display all available init scripts and their current runlevel (if they have been added to one):

user $rc-update show -v

Running rc-update or rc-update show will display only the init scripts that have been added to a runlevel.

Alternatively, the rc-status command can be used with the --servicelist (-s) option to view the state of all services:

user $rc-status --servicelist

Named runlevels

OpenRC runlevels are directories living in /etc/runlevels to create additional runlevels is enough to issue:

root #install -d /etc/runlevels/$runlevel

Stacked runlevels

Is possible manage variants using rc-update -s.

An usage example for using stacked runlevel on laptop to group networking services based on location is at OpenRC/Stacked runlevel.

Prefix

Gentoo Prefix installs Gentoo within an offset, known as a prefix, allowing users to install Gentoo in another location in the filesystem hierarchy, hence avoiding conflicts. Next to this offset, Gentoo Prefix runs unprivileged, meaning no root user or rights are required to use it.

By using an offset (the "prefix" location), it is possible for many "alternative" user groups to benefit from a large part of the packages in the Gentoo Linux Portage tree. Currently users of the following systems successfully run Gentoo Prefix: Mac OS X on PPC and x86, Linux on x86, x86_64 and ia64, Solaris 10 on Sparc, Sparc/64, x86 and x86_64, FreeBSD on x86, AIX on PPC, Interix on x86, Windows on x86 (with the help of Interix), HP-UX on PARISC and ia64.

OpenRC runscript already support prefix-installed daemons, during the Summer of Code 2012 work will be done to implement full secondary/session daemon behavior to complete the overall feature set provided by Prefix.

OpenRC/Prefix, a tutorial for trying it out.

Hotplug

OpenRC can be triggered by external events, such as new hardware from udev. This is what the configuration file says about hotplugged services:

FILE /etc/rc.confrc_hotplug
# rc_hotplug controls which services we allow to be hotplugged.
# A hotplugged service is one started by a dynamic dev manager when a matching
# hardware device is found.
# Hotplugged services appear in the "hotplugged" runlevel.
# If rc_hotplug is set to any value, we compare the name of this service
# to every pattern in the value, from left to right, and we allow the
# service to be hotplugged if it matches a pattern, or if it matches no
# patterns. Patterns can include shell wildcards.
# To disable services from being hotplugged, prefix patterns with "!".
# If rc_hotplug is not set or is empty, all hotplugging is disabled.
# Example - rc_hotplug="net.wlan !net.*"
# This allows net.wlan and any service not matching net.* to be hotplugged.
# Example - rc_hotplug="!net.*"
# This allows services that do not match "net.*" to be hotplugged.

CGroups support

OpenRC starting with version 0.12 has extended cgroups support. See OpenRC/CGroups for details.

Chroot support

root #mkdir /lib64/rc/init.d
root #ln -s /lib64/rc/init.d /run/openrc
root #touch /run/openrc/softlevel
root #emerge --oneshot sys-apps/openrc
FILE /etc/rc.confOpenRC config file
rc_sys="prefix"
rc_controller_cgroups="NO"
rc_depend_strict="NO"
rc_need="!net !dev !udev-mount !sysfs !checkfs !fsck !netmount !logger !clock !modules"

The system may report the following message upon attempting to start a service:

* WARNING: <service> is already starting

This may be fixed by issuing the following command:

root #rc-update --update

System integration

systemd compatibility

logind

Some setups require systemd-logind. Elogind can be a suitable replacement as a standalone logind running with OpenRC.

tmpfiles.d

systemd has a special tmpfiles.d file syntax for managing temporary files. sys-apps/systemd-tmpfiles is a standalone provider for OpenRC systems. Now deprecated, there is also sys-apps/opentmpfiles which provides (for now) a tmpfiles.d interpreter for OpenRC.

Both can also be used to manage volatile entries in /sys or /proc.

udev, eudev, and mdev

udev, eudev, and mdev are systems available on Gentoo to manage /dev. sys-fs/udev is the default, and was created as part of the Gentoo project, but OpenRC should be able to work with any, on Gentoo.

Older Gentoo installs used udev as the main virtual/udev provider. Based on bug #575718 this was changed to eudev, but it was changed to udev in bug #807193. However, the rc service is still /etc/init.d/udev.

See mdev, for possible use, e.g. for embedded systems.

BusyBox integration

N.B. This section lacks information on how to actually use BusyBox with OpenRC.

Please note that there are currently many BusyBox applets that are incompatible with OpenRC, see bug #529086 for details. Be warned that using OpenRC with BusyBox may require some work to set up. BusyBox is more adapted to embedded use, see previous section about mdev.

BusyBox can be used to replace most of the userspace utilities needed by OpenRC (init, shell, awk, and other POSIX tools), by using a complete BusyBox as the shell for OpenRC [1], all the calls that normally would cause a fork/exec would be spared, improving the overall speed.

The SysV-init /etc/inittab file provided by Gentoo is not compatible with the BusyBox init. Here is an example inittab compatible with BusyBox:

FILE /etc/inittabExample inittab compatible with BusyBox init
::sysinit:/sbin/openrc sysinit
::wait:/sbin/openrc boot
::wait:/sbin/openrc

BusyBox provides a number of applets that could be used to replace third party software like acpid or dhcp/dhcpcd.

See the OpenRC documentation on using BusyBox with OpenRC.

Troubleshooting

Respawning crashed services

OpenRC can return state of services to runlevel setting state, to provide stateful init scripts and automatic respawning.

To respawn crashed services from the default runlevel, run openrc: crashed services will be started and any manually-run services will be stopped. To keep manually-started services running, run openrc --not-stop or openrc -n, for short.

By default openrc will attempt to start crashed services, not to restart them. This сontrolled by the rc_crashed_stop (default NO) and rc_crashed_start (default YES) options in /etc/rc.conf.

Manually recovering crashed services

When a process crashes while starting, an error or warning message will be printed when trying to start, stop, or show the status of a service. For example, when using the "docker" service:

root #rc-service docker status
 * status: crashed
root #rc-service docker start
 * WARNING: docker has already been started
root #rc-service docker stop
 * Caching service dependencies ...                                                                                                  [ ok ]
 * Stopping docker ...
 * Failed to stop docker                                                                                                             [ !! ]
 * ERROR: docker failed to stop

To remedy this situation, zap the service:

root #rc-service docker zap

See also

External resources

OpenRC documentation

OpenRC has its own useful documentation, maintained by the OpenRC developers themselves. Be aware that Gentoo does not use all of OpenRC's functionality by default: