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According to https://www.freedesktop.org/software/systemd/man/systemd.unit.html, the default unit path is…

  • /etc/systemd/system: Local configuration
  • /run/systemd/system: Runtime units
  • /usr/lib/systemd/system: Units of installed packages

If I am writing a script to install software to a server, not using a package manager, none of these locations seems to be technically correct.

Since this is being set up by an installer script, /usr/lib/systemd/system directory seems more right than /etc/systemd/system, even though the Linux distro's package manager is not being used. Is that right?

I thought about trying to modify the SYSTEMD_UNIT_PATH to incude something like /opt/lib/systemd/system, but I'm pretty sure that is a bad idea.

  • /etc/systemd/system seems fine to me. It's the documented path for what you are looking for. What is your specific problem with it? – Michael Hampton Aug 14 '16 at 20:36
  • Clarifying the question. – Steve Jorgensen Aug 14 '16 at 22:31
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I'm a little bit confused: why didn't you use systemctl? I suggest, that the pathes used are different in different distros, thus I would use that programm to be compatible across distros and to future modifications!

  • Ah. You mean using systemctl link <path>? I didn't know it existed until I read the docs for systemctl after reading your answer. I think this is the answer to my question, and I'll give it a try. – Steve Jorgensen Aug 14 '16 at 23:18
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    This isn't a complete answer. Can you improve your answer to suggest how you would actually use systemctl to install a unit file? For example, the man page does not make clear if link is a temporary solution or survives reboots. Moreover, simply trying to link a file, if you meant systemctl link just results in Failed to link unit: Invalid argument for me. – user3188445 Aug 30 '16 at 1:05

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