Finit: A fast init for Linux

Finit is a small event based SysV init replacement with built-in process supervision, similar to that of its more famous cousins daemontools and runitServices are supervised and automatically restarted if they fail.

Finit primarily targets small and embedded Linux systems by heavily reducing the amount of context switches, forks, and calls to external tools that most other init daemons suffer from.

Finit supports runlevels, process monitoring, and starting/stopping services on demand – either with the built-in inetd support, or by triggering on free-form conditions. E.g., PID file created/modified, Netlink events like default route or interfaces coming up/down, similar to systemd.

Finit can also be extended with plugins to hook into the boot process and extend its functionality to fit your specific needs. For more details, see the documentation.


TroglOS provides an example of how to boot an embedded system with Finit, as well as extend it with plugins. TroglOS use an plugin to handle uninitialized flash:

Finit Screenshot


The following is an example of /etc/finit.conf. It can be split up in per-service .conf files in /etc/finit.d/ to be able to change and reload the configuration at runtime.

# /etc/finit.conf - System bootstrap for TroglOS
user root
host default

# Default runlevel
runlevel 2

# Launch bootstrap services
service [S12345] /sbin/watchdogd -L -f                      -- System watchdog daemon
service [S12345] /sbin/syslogd -n -b 3 -D                   -- System log daemon
service [S12345] /sbin/klogd -n                             -- Kernel log daemon

# Services must not daemonize themselves, look for -n, --foreground or
# similar switches to prevent them from forking to the background
service :1 [2345] <net/eth1/up>       /sbin/dropbear -R -F -p 22  -- SSH daemon (LAN)
service :2  [345] <net/route/default> /sbin/dropbear -R -F -p 222 -- SSH daemon (WAN)
#service    [2345]                    /sbin/telnetd -F            -- Telnet daemon

# Finit understands /etc/network/interfaces on Debian/BusyBox systems
#network /etc/init.d/networking

# System patch or extension scripts, see run-parts(8), built-in support in Finit.
# You can also use /etc/rc.local for smaller things.
#runparts /mnt/start.d

# Inetd services
# Allow telnet on standard port only if not from WAN (eth0)
# Allow telnet onport 2323 from WAN (don't do this kids)
# Built-in rdate service also available on custom port 3737, notice internal.time
inetd ftp/tcp                   nowait [2345] /sbin/uftpd -i -f       -- FTP daemon
inetd tftp/udp                    wait [2345] /sbin/uftpd -i -y       -- TFTP daemon
inetd time/udp                    wait [2345] internal                -- UNIX rdate service
inetd time/tcp                  nowait [2345] internal                -- UNIX rdate service
inetd 3737/tcp                  nowait [2345] internal.time           -- UNIX rdate service
inetd telnet/tcp@*,!eth0,       nowait [2345] /sbin/telnetd -i -F     -- Telnet daemon
inetd 2323/tcp@eth0             nowait [2345] /sbin/telnetd -i -F     -- Telnet daemon
#inetd 222/tcp@eth0             nowait [2345] /sbin/dropbear -i -R -F -- SSH service
#inetd ssh/tcp@*,!eth0          nowait [2345] /sbin/dropbear -i -R -F -- SSH service

# Allow login on ttyUSB0, for systems with no dedicated console port
tty [12345] /dev/ttyAMA0 115200 vt100
tty  [2345] /dev/ttyUSB0 115200 vt100
console /dev/ttyAMA0

Finit configuration files in /etc/finit.d/ are monitored for changes, if the mtime is changed on a file and the user calls initctl reload, that program is reloaded (SIGHUP:ed, or stop-started depending on the <!> in the service declaration.).


The familiar shutdown, reboot, poweroff, and halt commands are provided by Finit, as is the traditional telinit command. In addition to that there is also the more modern initctl tool:

~ $ initctl status -v
1       running  476     [S12345]   /sbin/watchdog -T 16 -t 2 -F /dev/watchdog
2       running  477     [S12345]   /sbin/syslogd -n -b 3 -D
3       running  478     [S12345]   /sbin/klogd -n
4:1       inetd  0       [2345]     internal time allow *:37
4:2       inetd  0       [2345]     internal time allow *:37
4:3       inetd  0       [2345]     internal 3737 allow *:3737
5:1       inetd  0       [2345]     /sbin/telnetd allow *:23 deny eth0,eth1
5:2       inetd  0       [2345]     /sbin/telnetd allow eth0:2323,eth2:2323,eth1:2323
6:1       inetd  0       [345]      /sbin/dropbear allow eth0:222
6:2       inetd  0       [345]      /sbin/dropbear allow *:22 deny eth0

For details, see the documentation and the online help -h to each tool.


This project is the continuation of the original finit by Claudio Matsuoka, which was reverse engineered from syscalls of the EeePC fastinit daemon – “gaps filled with frog DNA …”

Issue tracker and GIT repository available at GitHub:

See also the Free(code) page.