I need to have network messages sent when a systemd service I have crashes or is hung (i.e., enters failed state; I monitor for hung by using WatchdogSec=). I noticed that newer systemd have FailureAction=, but then saw that this doesn't allow arbitrary commands, but just rebooting/shutdown.

Specifically, I need a way to have one network message sent when systemd detects the program has crashed, and another when it detects it has hung.

I'm hoping for a better answer than "parse the logs", and I need something that has a near-instant response time, so I don't think a polling approach is good; it should be something triggered by the event occurring.


3 Answers 3


systemd units support OnFailure that will activate a unit (or more) when the unit goes to failed. You can put something like


And then create the [email protected] service where you can use the required specifier (you probably will want at least %i) to launch the script or command that will send notification.

You can see a practical example in http://northernlightlabs.se/systemd.status.mail.on.unit.failure

  • 7
    There are a couple corrections needed to the instructions on the linked site. First, notify%n.service is redundant, and will result in [email protected]. Second, %i should be used instead of %I, or all dashes in the name will be converted to forward slashes.
    – orodbhen
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 15:42
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    Is there a way to do this for multiple or all units, without modifying their unit files? Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 12:52
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    @VladimirPanteleev - you don't need to modify the actual unit files - you can just add an override for that specific feature. For example, run systemctl edit my-service.service and in the editor that opens add a line [Unit] followed by OnFailure=notify-failed@%n, save and exit. This will create an override file in /etc/systemd/system/my-service.service.d/override.conf with the added functionality (of course you can automate the creation of such files for multiple services, just don't forget to do systemctl daemon-reload if you modified files not through systemctl).
    – Guss
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 11:41
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    For anybody looking to do this for all service files at once, check Example 3 at the very end of systemd.unit. You need to place a configuration under service.d directory and it will apply to all services.
    – Felipe
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 17:59
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    @Felipe - I tried that on an Ubuntu 18.04 system but can't get it to work as advertised. The OnFailure= failure-handler@%n.service does work when attached to the individual service's [Unit] section but not when /etc/systemd/system/service.d/10-all.conf is the only place it is defined.
    – cueedee
    Commented Feb 7, 2023 at 8:03

Just my way to notify :

/etc/systemd/system/[email protected]

Description=Sent email 

ExecStart=/usr/bin/bash -c '/usr/bin/systemctl status %i | /usr/bin/mailx -Ssendwait -s "[SYSTEMD_%i] Fail" [email protected]'


add to systemd:

systemctl enable /etc/systemd/system/[email protected]

At others services add:


Reload the configuration:

systemctl daemon-reload
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    Is there a way to avoid triggering it lots of times in a row? In some situations receiving 1K emails about a service that failed at night and tried over and over again to restart itself isn't helpful. Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 19:27
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    As far I know, no, there is no option from systemd. You should put some control into the bash command, something like touching a file and checking if it have +10min for example... in simple command logic: find -mmin +10 && send email && touch file ;
    – ceinmart
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 14:30
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    Why are you enabling the notification service? It's supposed to be started by other units, no reason to start it on boot.
    – drrlvn
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 8:30
  • /bin/bash instead of /usr/bin/bash
    – JulianW
    Commented Oct 18, 2022 at 12:32
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    I'm a newbie here, but what I read at freedesktop.org/software/systemd/man/systemd.unit.html (Example 3. Top level drop-ins with template units) and unix.stackexchange.com/a/506374/16256 makes me wonder if the WantedBy=multi-user.target line is unnecessary or unwanted. Would it cause this to send a notification at each boot?
    – nealmcb
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 4:15

I came across this utility which seems to provide this: https://github.com/joonty/systemd_mon

  • Have you tried it? Last commit is many years old, it seems. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 7:37

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