BSD start services

last updated in Categories FreeBSD, Networking, Sys admin, Tips, Troubleshooting, UNIX

FreeBSD (and NetBSD) stores all service related scripts that stop, start or restart services under /etc/rc.d or /usr/local/etc/rc.d/ directory. From these directories, you can start/stop any network or other system related services. General syntax:


/etc/rc.d/service-name {start} {stop} {status} {reload} {forceXXX} {rcvar}

Where option can be use as follows,

  • start : Start a service
  • stop : Stop a service
  • status : Get status of a service such as if service is running or not
  • reload : Reload a service, useful when you make any changes to configuration files
  • forceXXX : To start, stop or restart a service regardless of the settings in /etc/rc.conf (see below for more info), the commands should be prefixed with “force”. For instance to restart sshd regardless of the current /etc/rc.conf setting, you can use forcerestart (replace XXX with start, stop or restart)
  • rcvar : Tells if service will be automatically starts when FreeBSD comes up (boot ups) i.e. to to check if a service is enabled in /etc/rc.conf or not.


Start sshd service:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd start

Stop sshd service:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd stop

Restart sshd service:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd restart

However, service will not start, stop or restart if it is not configured in /etc/rc.conf file. For instance to restart sshd regardless of the current /etc/rc.conf setting, you can use forcerestart as follows:

# /etc/rc.d/sshd forcerestart

Or just start regardless of the current /etc/rc.conf setting

# /etc/rc.d/sshd forcestart

Or just stop regardless of the current /etc/rc.conf setting

# /etc/rc.d/sshd forcestop

More on /etc/rc.conf file
All freebsd services usually started automatically as specified in rc.conf. For example, enabling the SSHD daemon at startup is as simple as adding the following line to /etc/rc.conf:

However, you can also use sysinstall command to add services that can start automatically as specified below:

1) Start sysinstall by typing sysinstall

# sysinstall 

2) Select Configure

3) Select Startup

4) Select the service you wish to start automatically by pressing space bar

5) When done select Ok and Exit to shell prompt


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

5 comment

  1. Unknown 12.13.05 at 12:34 am

    > I don’t wanna troll but like to know who is using FreeBSD these days?

    Yahoo and google, springs to mind.

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