lxinitd handbook


an init process for LXC containers, configurable with a single file /etc/rc.local.

/etc/rc.local is a litesh syntax script with the builtins spawn, respawn, and service.



respawn /sbin/getty -L tty1 115200 vt100

service /var/run/xtomp.pid /sbin/xtomp

"Services" are simply processes that are restarted if they fail.

When running services lxinitd will not return until it is sent either SIGUSR1, SIGTERM, SIGpwr or SIGKILL.
SIGUSR1, SIGTERM will be forwarded to all services.

If you HUP the lxinitd process it will print the service table to stderr.

pid reboot proc
2 0 /sbin/xtomp

Usage as /sbin/init

When lxinitd is sylinked and run as /sbin/init (pid 1) without a script argument, it will look for a litesh script called /etc/rc.local.
N.B. this is not a bash script as it might be in other systems.

Thus, when a container is booted with lxinitd as /sbin/init it will execute the commands in /etc/rc.local, and nothing else.


ip addr add dev eth0
ip route add default via

service /var/run/xtomp.pid /sbin/xtomp

This way xtomp will run in a container with no interactive shell available to it. With no getty instances there is no way to log into this container.

This script lxc-lxinitd is added to /usr/share/lxc/templates/ enabling creating LXC containers of this type.

lxc-create -t lxinitd -n mylxcguest

They have /lib mounted from the parent and very few binary files in side the container (lxinitd, lxmenu, rosh, noopsh) and the binary you are interested in running in a container.

lxinitd does not support runlevels, its either on or off. Use lxc commands to reboot the container.

N.B. If there are no service or respawn lines in /etc/rc.local, lxinitd will terminate and the container will too.

Usage as service container

lxinitd respawn features work outside of /sbin/init. This provides a simple alternative to system-v and systemd.

A file called, for example, service.sh containing...


respawn /home/me/dev/maypp/bin/myapp-msg

respawn /home/me/dev/maypp/bin/myapp

run with


will create a process that keeps services alive and requires no futher configuration.

It can also be run inside a chroot jail.


Since /sbin/init's stdout is not generally visible, lxinitd will log information about services.

If the lxinitd has permissions, it will generate logs in /var/log/service.log in syslog rfc5424 format.
There is no way to change the file written to.

This feature can be tested by setting LITESH_LOG=true. LITESH_LOG should not be used outside of testing, multiple instances of lxinitd can not write to the same file.

This feature can be disabled with the nolog builtin.

User id

LXC supports setting the user id of the /sbin/init process.


From the LXC docs: Note that using a non-root UID when booting a system container will likely not work due to missing privileges. listesh supports dropping privileges in the middle of the script.

ip addr add dev eth0

setuid 1000 1000
service /run/xtomp.pid /sbin/xtomp

This enables running the first few commands as root. When restarting services the current UID will be set. YMMV.


The builtins available for lxinitd scripts (rc.local) are defined in lxinitd.c in the function lxinitd_execute_argv(char **argv)

  • sleep - sleep for n seconds
  • log - write to service.log
  • nolog - do not write to service.log`
  • setuid - set userid of the lxinitd process
  • reexec - see services
  • spawn - see services
  • respawn - see services
  • service - see services

lx core utils

There are vairious builtins that are simplified Linux coreutils for use in lxinitd boot scripts.
These are only available if process id is 1.
This is work in progress, the idea is eventually auto-initalizing lxc containers with just /sbin/lxinitd & /etc/rc.local a tar of files and a generic lxc template.

  • lxnohup
  • lxmkdir
  • lxrm
  • lxmv
  • lxrmdir
  • lxtouch
  • lxchuid
  • lxln
  • lxmkfifo
  • lxmksock
  • lxmknod

    lxmknod tty 5 0 lxmknod console 5 1 lxmknod tty0 4 0 lxmknod tty1 4 0 lxmknod tty5 4 0 lxmknod ram0 1 0 lxmknod null 1 3 lxmknod zero 1 5 lxmknod urandom 1 9

by teknopaul