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Upstart is an event-based replacement for the traditional init daemon – the method by which several Unix-like computer operating systems perform tasks when the computer is started It was written by Scott James Remnant, a former employee of Canonical Ltd


  • 1 Rationale
  • 2 Design
  • 3 Adoption
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


The traditional init process was originally only responsible for bringing the computer into a normal running state after power-on, or gracefully shutting down services prior to shutdown As a result, the design is strictly synchronous, blocking future tasks until the current one has completed Its tasks must also be defined in advance, as they are limited to this prep or cleanup function This leaves it unable to handle various non-startup-tasks on a modern desktop computer elegantly, including:

  • The addition or removal of USB flash drives and other portable storage or network devices while the machine is running
  • The discovery and scanning of new storage devices, without locking the system, especially when a disk may not even power on until it is scanned
  • The loading of firmware for a device, which may need to occur after it is detected but before it is usable

Upstart's event-driven model allows it to respond to events asynchronously as they are generated2


Upstart operates asynchronously; it handles starting of the tasks and services during boot and stopping them during shutdown, and also supervises the tasks and services while the system is running

Easy transition and perfect backward compatibility with sysvinit were the explicit design goals;3 accordingly, Upstart can run unmodified sysvinit scripts In this way it differs from most other init replacements beside systemd and OpenRC, which usually assume and require complete transition to run properly, and do not support a mixed environment of traditional and new startup methods4

Upstart allows for extensions to its event model through the use of initctl to input custom, single events, or event bridges to integrate many or more-complicated events5 By default, Upstart includes bridges for socket, dbus, udev, file, and dconf events; additionally, more bridges are possible6


Linux distributions and other operating systems based on the Linux kernel which use Upstart as the default init system:

  • Upstart was first included in Ubuntu in the 610 Edgy Eft release in late 2006, replacing sysvinit Ubuntu 910 Karmic Koala introduced native Upstart bootup as of Alpha 67 In turn, after the Debian project decided to adopt systemd on a future release in 2014, Mark Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu would begin plans to migrate to systemd itself to maintain consistency with upstream8
  • Upstart is used in Google's Chrome OS and Chromium OS9

Linux distributions that support or have supported Upstart to some extent, but moved away since or no longer use it as their default init system:

  • Debian decided that systemd will be the default init system beginning with the jessie release,10 after considering switching to Upstart11 It was eventually removed from the Debian archives in December 201512
  • Ubuntu finished the switch to systemd as its default init system in version 1504 Vivid Vervet, with the exception of Ubuntu Touch13
  • In Fedora 9, Upstart replaced sysvinit, however, systemd replaced Upstart in the Fedora 15 release1415
  • Red Hat includes Upstart in their Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 release16 As a result, it is also used by RHEL 6 variants such as CentOS, Scientific Linux, and Oracle Linux For RHEL 7, systemd is used instead1718
  • openSUSE included Upstart in version 113 Milestone 4, but not as default19 systemd replaced Upstart, as the default init system in openSUSE 12120
  • Upstart is used in HP's webOS for the Palm Pre, Palm Pixi both before Palm was bought out by HP, HP Veer, and HP Pre 3 smart phones, along with the HP TouchPad tablet21
  • Upstart replaced the sysvinit in Maemo 5 for Nokia Internet tablets22

See alsoedit

  • Free software portal
  • launchd
  • Operating system service management
  • Service Management Facility


  1. ^ "Upstart 113 released" Ubuntucom Retrieved 2014-07-12 
  2. ^ Remnant, Scott James 2006-08-26 "Upstart in Universe" Netsplit Retrieved 2009-09-12 
  3. ^ "Upstart", Launch Pad 605007, Ubuntu 
  4. ^ "Discussion of design and implementation of Upstart", Ubuntu Wiki, Canonical 
  5. ^ "The Upstart Cookbook: initctl emit" Canonical Retrieved 26 January 2014 
  6. ^ "The Upstart Cookbook: Bridges" Canonical Retrieved 26 January 2014 
  7. ^ "Upstart", About, Ubuntu 
  8. ^ Shuttleworth, Mark "Losing graciously" Retrieved 14 February 2014 
  9. ^ Software Architecture: Chromium OS design documents, Google, retrieved 25 January 2014 
  10. ^ The Debian technical committee vote concludes, Lwnnet, 2014-02-11, retrieved 2014-02-11 
  11. ^ Petter Reinholdtsen 2009-09-05, The future of the boot system in Debian, Debianorg 
  12. ^ RM: upstart -- RoQA; unmaintained, debianorg, 2015-12-18, retrieved 2016-01-26 
  13. ^ VividVervet/ReleaseNotes, 2015-04-24 
  14. ^ Fedora 14 Accepted Features, 2010-07-13, retrieved 2010-07-13 
  15. ^ "Fedora defers systemd to F15" Linux Weekly News 2010-09-14 Retrieved 2010-09-17 
  16. ^ "Deployment" Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6: Technical Notes Red Hat Retrieved 2013-12-31 
  17. ^ Poettering, Lennart 2013-06-19, Red Hat Summit talk about systemd in RHEL 7 is now available online, Google Plus, retrieved 2013-12-31 
  18. ^ Tim Burke 2012-06-27, "Red Hat Enterprise Linux Roadmap Highlights" PDF, presentation 
  19. ^ OpenSUSE gets an Upstart, The H, 2010-03-26, archived from the original on 8 December 2013, retrieved 2010-04-04 
  20. ^ Chris von Eitzen 2011-11-16, openSUSE 121 arrives with systemd and Btrfs, The H, archived from the original on 20 April 2012, retrieved 2011-11-16 
  21. ^ Garrett, Matthew 2009-06-10, Palm Pre, retrieved 2009-07-09 
  22. ^ Fremantle, Maemo, retrieved 2009-08-24 

External linksedit

  • Official website
  • Upstart on Launchpad
  • Upstart Cookbook
  • Upstart Cookbook
  • Init systems comparison: part 1 and part 2 at LWNnet
  • Init systems comparison table

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