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I really miss the graphical "Services" tool from older versions of Ubuntu, but I understand why it had to go. I always have terminals open anyway, so I use (because I have to now, I guess) service --status-all to see what services are running. This would be ok except that the command produces output like the following:

 [ + ]  winbind
 [ ? ]  wpa-ifupdown
 [ - ]  x11-common

I'm guessing that those symbols mean something like listening, blocked, or stopped, but which is which? More importantly, why doesn't the man page say?

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marked as duplicate by Seth Feb 10 at 17:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

up vote 19 down vote accepted

To provide a shallow and unsatisfactory answer your first question:

  • The command service --status-all literally runs service <name> status for each service that supports the status command. Convention is for these to return success if the service is running and an error otherwise. A [ + ] is drawn upon success and a [ - ] upon error.
  • The [ ? ] is drawn for services that don't mention a status command in service <name>.

As you might have anticipated, I learned this by reading the source code.

To address the real issue—the lack of documentation—I suggest filing a polite bug report about the manpage on Launchpad. ubuntu-bug sysvinit-utils should get you started.

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Thank you! I got as far as logging in to launchpad, but then I wasn't sure which package to specify. I have a hard time trying to read source code :( – koanhead Sep 29 '10 at 6:29
Thanks a lot. +1 – Raja Aug 24 '13 at 16:32

services-admin was removed from the default installation some releases ago due to the fact that it was unable to handle Upstart jobs.

In 10.10, a utility to manage services has returned: jobs-admin will be able to control and configure both Upstart and System V jobs/services. If you'd like to give this a try now, check out the jobs-admin/jobservice PPA.

As for the symbols in your question, I believe + is running/enabled, ? is configured to start but may not be currently running (run-once, maybe), and - is likely disabled or not running.

Disclaimer: I am the developer of jobs-admin and jobservice and worked on it as a summer of code project for Ubuntu. It is not available on a default installation, but I'd like to work towards that for 11.04.

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I really wanted to check both your and aendruk's answers, but sadly I can't. Since he gave an answer more specific to my question, I checked his answer. I'm happy to hear of your project and look forward to working with jobs-admin. Will it by any chance have a textual or ncurses interface available? Thanks for all you do! – koanhead Sep 29 '10 at 6:34
No worries. And yes, I am planning on writing an ncurses interface for use on the server in the next release. :) – Jacob Peddicord Sep 29 '10 at 14:25

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