Per-User Services

Sometimes it can be nice to have user-specific runit services. For example, you might want to open an ssh tunnel as the current user, run a virtual machine, or regularly run daemons on your behalf. The most common way to do this is to create a system-level service that runs runsvdir(8) as your user, in order to start and monitor the services in a personal services directory.

For example, you could create a service called /etc/sv/runsvdir-<username> with the following run script:

#!/bin/sh

export USER="<username>"
export HOME="/home/<username>"

groups="$(id -Gn "$USER" | tr ' ' ':')"
svdir="$HOME/service"

exec chpst -u "$USER:$groups" runsvdir "$svdir"

In this example chpst(8) is used to start a new runsvdir(8) process as the specified user. chpst(8) does not read groups on its own, but expects the user to list all required groups separated by a :. The id and tr pipe is used to create a list of all the user's groups in a way chpst(8) understands it. Note that we export $USER and $HOME because some user services may not work without them.

The user can then create new services or symlinks to them in the /home/<username>/service directory. To control the services using the sv(8) command, the user can specify the services by path, or by name if the SVDIR environment variable is set to the user's services directory. This is shown in the following examples:

$ sv status ~/service/*
run: /home/duncan/service/gpg-agent: (pid 901) 33102s
run: /home/duncan/service/ssh-agent: (pid 900) 33102s
$ SVDIR=~/service sv restart gpg-agent
ok: run: gpg-agent: (pid 19818) 0s

It may be convenient to export the SVDIR=~/service variable in your shell profile.