SystemServer(7) - SerenityOS man pages


SystemServer - one server to rule them all


SystemServer is the first userspace process to be started by the kernel on boot. Its main responsibility is spawning all the other servers and other programs that need to be autostarted (referred to as services).

A service can be configured to be kept alive, in which case SystemServer will respawn it if it exits or crashes. A service may also be configured as lazy, in which case SystemServer won't spawn it immediately, but only once a client connects to its socket (see Socket takeover below).

Socket takeover

SystemServer can be configured to set up a socket on behalf of a service (typically, an IPC portal socket inside /tmp/portal/). SystemServer sets up the configured sockets before spawning any services, preventing any races between socket creation and the client trying to connect to those sockets.

When a service is spawned, SystemServer passes it an open file descriptor to the configured socket as fd 3, and sets SOCKET_TAKEOVER=1 in the environment to inform the service that socket takeover is happening. SystemServer calls listen(2) on the file descriptor, so the service doesn't need to do it again. The file descriptor does not have the FD_CLOEXEC flag set on it.

The service is advised to set this flag using fcntl(2) and unset SOCKET_TAKEOVER from the environment in order not to confuse its children.

LibCore provides Core::LocalServer::take_over_from_system_server() method that performs the service side of the socket takeover automatically.

If a service is configured as lazy, SystemServer will actually listen on the socket it sets up for the service, and only spawn the service once a client tries to connect to the socket. The service should then start up and accept the connection. This all happens transparently to the client. If a lazy service is configured to be kept alive, it can even exit after some period of inactivity; in this case SystemServer will respawn it again once there is a new connection to its socket.

SystemServer can also be configured to accept connections on the socket and spawn separate instances of the service for each accepted connection, passing the accepted socket to the service process.

See also