I needed to make a new image and opted for the new 16.04 ubuntu so I could get newer versions of some packages and not install from source. So far, I regret that decision as online docs are sparse.

With 12.04 and 14.04, I was often able to re-purpose the startup scripts for custom compilations by installing a package, then removeing (not purging) it, to create the ubuntu startup scripts. Then I could just edit them to point to the right config file and binary.

For example, to use the latest openresty I could just do this:

apt-get install nginx
apt-get remove nginx

Then I could just update the /etc/init.d/nginx script to point to my custom binary/config file and I have a happy ubuntu startup script. Great!

This method doesn't work with 16.04 anymore.

I've edited:

  • /etc/init.d/nginx
  • /etc/init/nginx.conf
  • /lib/system.d/system/nginx.service

ubuntu never pulls my binary (which is in /usr/local/openresty/nginx/sbin/nginx). it always runs /sbin/nginx on bootup (i missed uninstalling 'nginx-core' at first) or nothing at all. The same holds true for other packages.

Ubuntu's docs on the transition from upstart are lacking in this area, they're concerned with "start stop".

I have no idea where ubuntu is deciding this. i can't find any config files that point to /sbin/nginx. No logs help. Every potential file I've come across points to the alternate binary and config.

If anyone can share a good resource on using the new launch system and where it looks/store info, I would be incredibly grateful.

There seems to be a database involved, as it's detected file-changes and asked me to reload -- but I haven't found it.


after toying around a lot, I figured the following out:

It seems that the nginx package installed two types of setups but only uses one. some issues were tied to that.

  1. /etc/init.d/nginx and /etc/init/nginx.conf
  2. /lib/systemd/system/nginx.service and /etc/systemd/system/nginx.service

from trial and error: * run systemctl disable nginx.service to disable/delete most links and files * remove file in /etc/systemd/system/nginx.service if it exists * place a new file in /lib/systemd/system/nginx.service * run systemctl enable nginx.service

the file in /lib/systemd/system/nginx.service must be a file; it can't be symlink (otherwise a too many symlinks error appears)

this seems to work for now. i wish i could use symlinks as these files are tied to version control.

  • The systemd project page freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/systemd links to a a number of tutorials and documentation where the blog posts "systemd for administrators" series is a good start. – HBruijn Apr 27 '16 at 6:34

Could you create a new service for your custom install, then make it autostart?

Description=Jonathan Vanasco nginx



Then check it starts:

systemctl start NAMEOFCUSTOM.service

Then set to auto-start on boot:

systemctl enable NAMEOFCUSTOM.service

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