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I have an upstart job:

description "foreman"

start on runlevel [2345]
stop on runlevel [06]

respawn limit 3 60

chdir /home/deploy/app/current

env RAILS_ENV=production

exec sudo -u deploy bundle exec foreman start

We ran into a case where a rogue character in an app file caused one of the background workers to fail but the app ran normally (weird). The app worked fine, but the workers were never working.

I'd like upstart to do something (send an email) if it can't start this job, since it's not entirely obvious if everything went alright. Is there something built into upstart to handle this, or do I have to get creative?

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upstart will log the respawn limit failure via syslog. Its a good idea to have cron jobs or a realtime log monitor that inform you of problems like this. Its also a good idea to have monitoring of the service at a much deeper level so that you are informed when the service does not appear to be running. Upstart is only concerned with whether or not the process is running at a very basic level.

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