I have written a custom systemd service unit and its companion shell script to renew a certificate from Let's Encrypt. Everything works fine when I run systemctl start letsencrypt-example_com.service. I want it to be run automatically every 60 days, so I wrote a systemd timer unit.


I ran systemctl enable letsencrypt-example_com.timer then systemctl start letsencrypt-example_com.timer. The timer seems to start but not the service.

# systemctl status letsencrypt-example_com.timer
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/timers.target.wants/letsencrypt-example_com.timer to /etc/systemd/system/letsencrypt-example_com.timer.
# systemctl start letsencrypt-example_com.timer
# systemctl list-timers --all
# systemctl list-timers
NEXT                           LEFT     LAST                           PASSED       UNIT                            ACTIVATES
n/a                            n/a      ven. 2016-05-06 13:10:13 CEST  1h 51min ago letsencrypt-example_com.timer letsencrypt-example_com.service
# systemctl status letsencrypt-example_com.timer
● letsencrypt-example_com.timer - Run letsencrypt-example_com every 60 days
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/letsencrypt-example_com.timer; enabled)
   Active: active (elapsed) since ven. 2016-05-06 15:01:57 CEST; 2min 50s ago
# systemctl status letsencrypt-example_com.service
● letsencrypt-example_com.service - letsencrypt certificat renewal for example.com and subdomains
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/letsencrypt-example_com.service; static)
   Active: inactive (dead)


cat /etc/systemd/system/letsencrypt-example_com.service :

Description=letsencrypt certificat renewal for example.com and subdomains

ExecStart=/bin/sh /usr/local/bin/letsencrypt-renew.sh example.com www.example.com

/usr/local/bin/letsencrypt-renew.sh :


letsencrypt certonly \
--server https://acme-v01.api.letsencrypt.org/directory \
--text \
--email admin@example.com \
--agree-tos \
--rsa-key-size 4096 \
--authenticator webroot \
--webroot-path /srv/files/letsencrypt/www \
for fqdn in $@;
    do echo "--domain $fqdn";
) \

/etc/systemd/system/letsencrypt-example_com.timer :

Description=Run letsencrypt-example_com every 60 days



/etc/systemd/system/nginx_reload.service :

Description=reload nginx conf

ExecStart=/bin/systemctl reload nginx
  • If I did it today, I may not have created a nginx_reload.service, and add this to letsencrypt-example_com.service instead : PermissionsStartOnly=true ExecStartPost=/bin/systemctl reload nginx – pandark Feb 21 '18 at 18:32
  • Perhaps related: github.com/systemd/systemd/issues/6680 – nh2 Nov 3 '18 at 15:39

Although timer units automatically gain a Before= dependency on the service they are supposed to activate, they apparently don't automatically have a Requires= dependency on it (which doesn't make any sense to me).

So I added the following line to the [Unit] section of the timer unit, and now it starts the service as intended :


I also set an AccuracySec (of 10s) in the [Timer] section.

  • I had a working timer some time ago, then the same timer stopped with your same error; I solved using this solution; I think something changed in a systemd upgrade... – Zac Mar 21 '18 at 13:59

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