Execute anything when booting using systemd

A concise explanation about executing a script at boot by using systemd and a regular user account, instead of root.

I wanted to execute a docker container every time I boot my Ubuntu / Debian accessing some directories from my user directory. This should work in any linux using systemd, like Fedora or ArchLinux.

First, create the following file at ~/.config/systemd/user/<myscript>.service, where ~ is the home folder of the user you want to run the script as, and <myscript> is any name you want to use to identify the script. Note that you might have to create those directories:

Description=A description of this service

ExecStart=<path to execute script> <script argument1...>


I choose to restart on failure, so I have my service on all the time I want it to be. You can change or even remove the Restart directive. To change the directory your script executes, use the WorkingDirectory=<abs/path> directive after [Service].

Then, enable the service so it starts at boot: systemctl --user enable <myscript>.

Optionally, you can try to run the script with systemctl --user start <myscript> to check for errors and journalctl --user-unit <myscript> to check the logs.

Now, the script runs only when you login with that user. To really enable it on boot, execute loginctl enable-linger <username>.

Happy coding 🙂

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