A cross-platform service manager.
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Cross-platform service management made easy.

sudo serviceman add --name foo ./serve.js --port 3000

Success: "foo" started as a "launchd" SYSTEM service, running as "root"


Because it sucks to debug launchctl, systemd, etc.

Also, I wanted a reasonable way to install Telebit on Windows. (see more in the More Why section below)


  • Unprivileged (User Mode) Services with --user (Default)
    • Linux (sytemctl --user)
    • MacOS (launchctl)
    • Windows (HKEY_CURRENT_USER/.../Run)
  • Privileged (System) Services with --system (Default for root)
    • Linux (sudo sytemctl)
    • MacOS (sudo launchctl)
    • Windows (not yet implemented)

Table of Contents

  • Usage
  • Install
  • Examples
    • compiled programs
    • scripts
    • bash
    • node
    • python
    • ruby
    • PATH
  • Logging
  • Debugging
  • Windows
  • Building
  • More Why
  • Legal


The basic pattern of usage:

sudo serviceman add --name "foobar" [options] [interpreter] <service> [--] [service options]
sudo serviceman start <service>
sudo serviceman stop <service>
sudo serviceman list --all
serviceman version

And what that might look like:

sudo serviceman add --name "foo" foo.exe -c ./config.json

You can also view the help:

serviceman add --help

System Services VS User Mode Services

User services start on login.

System services start on boot.

The default is to register a user services. To register a system service, use sudo or run as root.


You can install serviceman directly from the official git releases with webi:

Mac, Linux:

curl -sL https://webinstall.dev/serviceman | bash

Windows 10:

curl.exe -sLA "MS" https://webinstall.dev/serviceman | powershell

You can run this from cmd.exe or PowerShell (curl.exe is a native part of Windows 10).

Manual Install

There are a number of pre-built binaries.

If none of them work for you, or you prefer to build from source, see the instructions for building far down below.


curl -fsSL "https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/$(uname -s)/$(uname -m)/serviceman" -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman


See download options

MacOS (darwin): 64-bit Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/darwin/amd64/serviceman -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman


See download options Windows 10: [64-bit Download](https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/windows/amd64/serviceman.exe)
powershell.exe $ProgressPreference = 'SilentlyContinue'; Invoke-WebRequest https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/windows/amd64/serviceman.exe -OutFile serviceman.exe

Debug version:

powershell.exe $ProgressPreference = 'SilentlyContinue'; Invoke-WebRequest https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/windows/amd64/serviceman.debug.exe -OutFile serviceman.debug.exe

Windows 7: 32-bit Download

powershell.exe "(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/windows/386/serviceman.exe', 'serviceman.exe')"

Debug version:

powershell.exe "(New-Object Net.WebClient).DownloadFile('https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/windows/386/serviceman.debug.exe', 'serviceman.debug.exe')"


See download options

Linux (64-bit): Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/linux/amd64/serviceman -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman

Linux (32-bit): Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/linux/386/serviceman -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman

Raspberry Pi (Linux ARM)

See download options

RPi 4 (64-bit armv8): Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/linux/armv8/serviceman -o serviceman`
chmod +x ./serviceman

RPi 3 (armv7): Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/linux/armv7/serviceman -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman

ARMv6: Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/linux/armv6/serviceman -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman

RPi Zero (armv5): Download

curl https://rootprojects.org/serviceman/dist/linux/armv5/serviceman -o serviceman
chmod +x ./serviceman

Add to PATH


mkdir %userprofile%\bin
move serviceman.exe %userprofile%\bin\serviceman.exe
reg add HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Environment /v PATH /d "%PATH%;%userprofile%\bin"

All Others

sudo mv ./serviceman /usr/local/bin/


sudo serviceman add --name <name> <program> [options] [--] [raw options]

# Example
sudo serviceman add --name "gizmo" gizmo --foo bar/baz

Anything that looks like file or directory will be resolved to its absolute path:

# Example of path resolution
gizmo --foo /User/me/gizmo/bar/baz

Use -- to prevent this behavior:

# Complex Example
sudo serviceman add --name "gizmo" gizmo -c ./config.ini -- --separator .

For native Windows programs that use / for flags, you'll need to resolve some paths yourself:

# Windows Example
serviceman add --name "gizmo" gizmo.exe .\input.txt -- /c \User\me\gizmo\config.ini /q /s .

In this case ./config.ini would still be resolved (before --), but . would not (after --)

Compiled Programs

Normally you might your program somewhat like this:

gizmo run --port 8421 --config envs/prod.ini

Adding a service for that program with serviceman would look like this:

sudo serviceman add --name "gizmo" gizmo run --port 8421 --config envs/prod.ini

serviceman will find gizmo in your PATH and resolve envs/prod.ini to its absolute path.

Using with scripts
./snarfblat.sh --port 8421

Although your text script may be executable, you'll need to specify the interpreter in order for serviceman to configure the service correctly.

This can be done in two ways:

  1. Put a hashbang in your script, such as #!/bin/bash.
  2. Prepend the interpreter explicitly to your command, such as bash ./dinglehopper.sh.

For example, suppose you had a script like this:


while true; do
  sleep 1; echo "Still Alive, Still Alive!"

Normally you would run the script like this:


So you'd either need to modify the script to include a hashbang:

#!/usr/bin/env bash
while true; do
  sleep 1; echo "I'm Ok!"

Or you'd need to prepend it with bash when creating a service for it:

sudo serviceman add --name "imok" bash ./imok.sh

Background Information

An operating system can't "run" text files (even if the executable bit is set).

Scripts require an interpreter. Often this is denoted at the top of "executable" scripts with something like one of these:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

However, sometimes people get fancy and pass arguments to the interpreter, like this:

#!/usr/local/bin/node --harmony --inspect

Serviceman understands all 3 of those approaches.

Using with node.js

If normally you run your node script something like this:

pushd ~/my-node-project/
npm start

Then you would add it as a system service like this:

sudo serviceman add npm start

If normally you run your node script something like this:

pushd ~/my-node-project/
node ./serve.js --foo bar --baz

Then you would add it as a system service like this:

sudo serviceman add node ./serve.js --foo bar --baz

It's important that any paths start with ./ and have the .js so that serviceman knows to resolve the full path.

# Bad Examples
sudo serviceman add node ./demo # Wouldn't work for 'demo.js' - not a real filename
sudo serviceman add node demo   # Wouldn't work for './demo/' - doesn't look like a directory

See Using with scripts for more detailed information.

Using with python

If normally you run your python script something like this:

pushd ~/my-python-project/
python ./serve.py --config ./config.ini

Then you would add it as a system service like this:

sudo serviceman add python ./serve.py --config ./config.ini

See Using with scripts for more detailed information.

Using with ruby

If normally you run your ruby script something like this:

pushd ~/my-ruby-project/
ruby ./serve.rb --config ./config.yaml

Then you would add it as a system service like this:

sudo serviceman add ruby ./serve.rb --config ./config.yaml

See Using with scripts for more detailed information.

Setting PATH

You can set the $PATH (%PATH% on Windows) for your service like this:

sudo serviceman add ./myservice --path "/home/myuser/bin"

Snapshot your actual path like this:

sudo serviceman add ./myservice --path "$PATH"

Remember that this takes a snapshot and sets it in the configuration, it's not a live reference to your path.


  • If something goes wrong, read the output completely - it'll probably be helpful
  • Run serviceman from your project directory, just as you would run it normally
    • Otherwise specify --name <service-name> and --workdir <project directory>
  • Use -- in front of arguments that should not be resolved as paths
    • This also holds true if you need -- as an argument, such as -- --foo -- --bar
# Example of a / that isn't a path
# (it needs to be escaped with --)
sudo serviceman add dinglehopper config/prod -- --category color/blue



sudo journalctl -xef --unit <NAME>
sudo journalctl -xef --user-unit <NAME>

Mac, Windows

When you run serviceman add it will either give you an error or will print out the location where logs will be found.

By default it's one of these:


You set it with one of these:

  • --logdir <path> (cli)
  • "logdir": "<path>" (json)
  • Logdir: "<path>" (go)

If anything about the logging sucks, tell me... unless they're your logs (which they probably are), in which case you should fix them.

That said, my goal is that it shouldn't take an IT genius to interpret why your app failed to start.


  • serviceman add --dryrun <normal options>
  • serviceman run --config <special config>

One of the most irritating problems with all of these launchers is that they're terrible to debug - it's often difficult to find the logs, and nearly impossible to interpret them, if they exist at all.

The config files generate by serviceman are simple, template-generated and tested, and therefore gauranteed to work - if your application runs with the parameters given, which is big 'if'.

serviceman tries to make sure that all necessary files and folders exist and give clear error messages if they don't (be sure to check the logs, mentioned above).

There's also a run utility that can be used to test that the parameters you've given are being interpreted correctly (absolute paths and such).

serviceman run --config ./conf.json

Where conf.json looks something like

For Binaries:

	"title": "Demo",
	"exec": "/Users/me/go-demo/demo",
	"argv": ["--foo", "bar", "--baz", "qux"]

For Scripts:

Scripts can't be run directly. They require a binary interpreter - bash, node, ruby, python, etc.

If you're running from the folder containing ./demo.js, and node.exe is in your PATH, then you can use executable names and relative paths.

	"title": "Demo",
	"interpreter": "node.exe",
	"exec": "./bin/demo.js",
	"argv": ["--foo", "bar", "--baz", "qux"]

That's equivalent to this:

	"title": "Demo",

	"name": "demo",

	"exec": "node.exe",
	"argv": ["./bin/demo.js", "--foo", "bar", "--baz", "qux"]

Making add and run take the exact same arguments is on the TODO list. The fact that they don't is an artifact of run being created specifically for Windows.

If you have gripes about it, tell me. It shouldn't suck. That's the goal anyway.

Peculiarities of Windows

Console vs No Console

Windows binaries can be built either for the console or the GUI.

When they're built for the console they can hide themselves when they start. They must open up a terminal window.

When they're built for the GUI they can't print any output - even if they're started in the terminal.

This is why there's a Debug version for the windows binaries - so that you can get your arguments correct with the one and then switch to the other.

There's probably a clever way to work around this, but I don't know what it is yet.

No userspace launcher

Windows doesn't have a userspace daemon launcher. This means that if your application crashes, it won't automatically restart.

However, serviceman handles this by not directly adding your application to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/.../Run, but rather installing a copy of itself instead, which runs your application and automatically restarts it whenever it exits.

If the application fails to start serviceman will retry continually, but it does have an exponential backoff of up to 1 minute between failed restart attempts.

See the bit on serviceman run in the Debugging section up above for more information.


git clone https://git.coolaj86.com/coolaj86/go-serviceman.git
pushd ./go-serviceman
go generate -mod=vendor ./...


go build -mod=vendor -ldflags "-H=windowsgui" -o serviceman.exe

Linux, MacOS:

go build -mod=vendor -o /usr/local/bin/serviceman

More Why

I created this for two reasons:

  1. Too often I just run services in screen -xRS foo because systemd .service files are way too hard to get right and even harder to debug. I make stupid typos or config mistakes and get it wrong. Then I get a notice 18 months later from digital ocean that NYC region 3 is being rebooted and to expect 5 seconds of downtime... and I don't remember if I remembered to go back and set up that service with systemd or not.
  2. To make it easier for people to install Telebit on Windows.


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