Check If You Are Using SystemD or Not on Linux

Linux TLDR
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This article will show you three methods for determining whether your Linux system is using systemd or another init system.

If you are unfamiliar with this term, check the following section; otherwise, skip to the next section.

What are Init and SystemD in Linux?

The init is the first (or parent) process with β€œPID=1” that is triggered by the kernel, and this process handles the rest of the (child) processes in your system. If somehow the system fails to load it, you will experience the state called β€œKernel Panic”.

Since the release of System V init (the first commercial system designed to run on init), the SysV init system has been the most popular until the introduction of SystemD.

The SystemD released to outcome some setbacks exist in init (read our article on β€˜init’ vs β€˜systemd’ in Linux), the most highlighted was the lack of parallel processing on system boot.

Currently, while I was writing this article, most of the popular systems ran on SystemD, and in this article, you will learn to determine whether your system uses it or not.

Tutorial Details

DescriptionDetermine the First Process in Your System
Difficulty LevelLow
Root or Sudo PrivilegesNo
OS CompatibilityUbuntu, Manjaro, Fedora, etc.
Prerequisitesps, pstree
Internet RequiredNo

Determine the First Process in Your System

The first method is only applicable if your system is running on systemd; the second method works on any system; and the third method is uncertain (check the section to know).

Method 1: Extracting the PS Command Output

The following command will filter the command section from the ps command output for the first process (as you know, the first is always the init).

$ ps -p 1 -o comm=


$ ps --no-headers -o comm 1


Determine the system by extracting the command section

If your system is running on systemd, you will get it in the result; however, different systems might output some random text.

Method 2: Following the Symbolic Link in the PS Output

As you already know, init is the first process with β€œPID = 1β€œ, so check the first process output using the ps command.

$ ps 1


Inspecting the first process

As you can see from the above picture, the command section holds the β€œ/sbin/init” path; unfortunately, this is not an absolute but rather a symbolic link to your actual init process.

Either, you can use the file command to output the real process.

$ file /sbin/init


Checking the real process using the file command

Alternatively, you can use the stat command to find the real process with more information.

$ stat /sbin/init


Checking the real process using the stat command

Method 3: Using the Pstree Command

This method varies depending on the system: if they have the pstree utility, then check the process tree to see if your system is running on systemd or not.

$ pstree


Finding the first process using the pstree command

And here comes the end of all methods.

The above mentioned methods are the easiest and most efficient ways to determine whether your system is running on systemd or not.

If you have any other way to determine this, then do let me know in the comment section.

Till then, peace!

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