Guix Services

An important part of preparing an operating-system declaration is listing system services and their configuration.


General routes about service definition

in order to submit a new system service for shepherd, we need to define a service-type record containing list of `extensions, required to start service:

(define my-service-type
  (service-type (name 'my-service-name)
                  (list (service-extension ...)
                        (service-extension ...)))))

each item in extensions list extends shepherd definition of regarding extension.

for example to extend shepherd-root-service-type we need to define our extended definition of based on our service:

(define my-shepherd-service
  (list (shepherd-service

then we use this definition in our service as follows:

    (list (service-extension shepherd-root-service-type
          (service-extension ...)))))

Note: a series of mostly used service extensions will be describe in later sections.

we also might need to define some part of our service configurable, so we need to define a configuration record for our service, using define-record-type* method located in guix records module:

(define-record-type* <myservice-configuration>
  myservice-configuration make-myservice-configuration
  (param1   (myservice-configuration-param1
            (default ...))
  (param2   (myservice-configuration-param2)

as a summary, our full service definition could be as follows:

(define-module (path to module)
  #:use-module (gnu services)
  #:use-module (gnu services shepherd)
  #:use-module (guix gexp)
  #:use-module (guix records)
  #:use-module (ice-9 match)
  #:export (myservice-configuration

(define-record-type* <myservice-configuration>
  myservice-configuration make-myservice-configuration
  (param1 myservice-configuration-param1
          (default "foo")))

(define myservice-shepherd-service
    (($ <myservice-configuration> param1)
      (list (shepherd-service
              (provision '(myservice))
              (documentation "description about service")
              (requirement '())  ; services need to be started before current service
              (start #~(make-forkexec-constructor
                        (list (string-append #$service-package "/bin/exe-name")
                              "-foo" "-bar" ; list of command line arguments
              (stop #~(make-kill-destructor)))))))

(define myservice-service-type
    (name 'myservice)
    (extensions (list (service-extension shepherd-root-service-type
    (default-value (myservice-configuration))))

Service Extensions


this service represents a service that managed by shepherd, extending this service is required, if we want to define a custom service from scratch.

important service parameters we usually use are as follows:

  • provision: defines the service name
  • requirement: list of services required to be started prior than our service
  • start: procedure to run on service start
  • stop: procedure to run on service stop
  • on-shot?: default: #f - stop service after successful execution of start

for a full list of shepherd-service parameters, you can check official document.


defines the list of user-account and user-group objects that should be created during service configuration.

(define %myservice-accounts
  (list (user-group (name "mygroup"))
        (user-account (name "myuser")
                      (group "mygroup")
                      (comment "my service user")
                      (supplementary-groups '("users" "video")))))

(define myservice-service-type
    (name 'myservice)
    (extensions (list ...
                      (service-extension account-service-type


this procedure provides a gexp that runs on service activation, eg. during boot time or system reconfigure. in following example we create base config folder during system reconfigure / boot and set proper permission for it.

(define (myservice-activation config)
  (with-imported-modules '((guix build utils))
        (use-modules (guix build utils))
        (let ((user (getpw #$(myservice-configuration-user config)))
              (directory "/path/to/config/directory"))
          (mkdir-p directory)
          (chown directory (passwd:uid %user) (passwd:gid %user))))))

(define myservice-service-type
    (name 'myservice)
    (extensions (list ...
                      (service-extension activation-service-type

Service definition notes

Service start procedure

a common way to create service start procedure is to use the make-forkexec-constructor procedure, this procedure that initiates the environment and run provided command on service start. this procedure takes the command as a list of strings, plus a series or optional keys to configure the environment for service to start:

  • command: command to run on service start provided as list
  • [#:user #f]: user which service is started by (start as root of sets to #f)
  • [#:group #f]: group which service is started by (start as root of sets to #f)
  • [#:log-file #f]: when it sets, standard output and error redirects to that
  • [#:directory (default-service-directory)]: set the current directory for service to start
  • [#:file-creation-mask #f]: set the file creation mask for service
  • [#:environment-variables (default-environment-variables)]: rests the environment variables for service to the provided list

Additional resources

PantherX & (unofficial) GNU Guix Wiki.

Last update: 2022-08-10 21:54:56 +0000

Inspired by the excellent Arch Linux Wiki