I want to have a process which will be restarted if it crashes. I googled a bit and found that an easy solution is to use daemontools.

I didn't understand how to configure it.

  1. What is the easiest way to acomplish such a functionality?
  2. How to configure it?

6 Answers 6


This answer applies to Ubuntu versions with Upstart (<= 14.10). Use another approach for versions with Systemd (>= 15.04).

It seems you're looking for a functionality already provided in Ubuntu with Upstart. The respawn stanza in the configuration will do exactly what you need. I would recommend against the use of a less standard way of dealing with this.

Without more details about the process you're trying to manage with it, it's hard to say what the configuration should look like. It depends on whether it forks and puts itself in the background for example. The Upstart documentation on the respawn stanza should give you more information.

Unfortunately, it's not yet possible to run User Jobs properly: cannot get upstart to run user job


Let's assume we want to keep the Calculator app running, even when it's being killed with fire (signal 9).

  1. Create a configuration file in /etc/init/calculator.conf (based on this article):

    description "Calculator"
    # Start job via the daemon control script. Replace "gert" with your username.
    exec su -l gert -c 'export DISPLAY=:0; /usr/bin/gnome-calculator'
    # Restart the process if it dies with a signal
    # or exit code not given by the 'normal exit' stanza.
    # Give up if restart occurs 10 times in 90 seconds.
    respawn limit 10 90
  2. Start it by running

    sudo start calculator
  3. It opens on your current display (:0) and enjoy the awesomeness by seeing it restarting after closing it.

    • Identify the process ID, e.g. by doing ps aux | grep calculator:

      gert  13695 0.2 0.4 349744 16460 ?   Sl   13:38   0:00 /usr/bin/gnome-calculator
    • Kill it with fire.

      sudo kill -9 13695
    • Watch it reappearing:

      gert  16059 4.6 0.4 349736 16448 ?   Sl   13:40   0:00 /usr/bin/gnome-calculator

Note that this will be more elegant with the plans for the Ubuntu 13.04 plans with proper User Job support.

  • I get unknown job when i try to start it ? any ideea . i have placed the file in /etc/init
    – opc0de
    Feb 5, 2013 at 13:19
  • @opc0de The name of the file servicename.conf has to match the command to start start servicename. I suspect you have chosen a different name.
    – gertvdijk
    Feb 5, 2013 at 13:23
  • nope, it matches but I didn't follow your example so i think I might have an syntax error.
    – opc0de
    Feb 5, 2013 at 13:26
  • @opc0de Well, start by explaining more about what you're trying to accomplish in the question: what kind of application/process and how you run it for example, as well as the details about your current attempt.
    – gertvdijk
    Feb 5, 2013 at 15:18
  • Solved with your example my mistake was that i probably had a mistake into the exec statament. Thanks for your help!
    – opc0de
    Feb 5, 2013 at 17:58

An extremely simple tool that can accomplish the same effect without needing configuration is immortal: https://immortal.run/

Simply execute the command like this:

immortal <cmd>

It will run in the background and restart automatically if it exits.

  • immortalctl: View the status of running jobs. There is a name column which will be printed here, you can use this to refer to the job with other control commands.
  • immortalctl stop <name>: Stops monitoring the job with the given name (it will not be automatically restarted, but the current process will continue to execute)
  • immortalctl -k <name>: Sends SIGKILL to the current process.
  • immortalctl exit <name>: Stops monitoring the job with the given name and removes it from the list of jobs.
  • 1
    Thanks, this worked great for my use case in 16.04. Putting this in my bag of useful tools. Jun 13, 2017 at 16:30
  • 2
    Indeed, this looks more lightweight than upstart/respawn. Jul 26, 2017 at 5:14
  • Is there a way to get it to display stdout and stderr in the foreground?
    – David S.
    Aug 7, 2017 at 17:24
  • I'm not aware of one, since it's usually used to run a process in the background. However, you can use immortalctl -l out.log <cmd> && tail -f out.log to achieve the same effect.
    – n s
    Aug 8, 2017 at 18:53
  • @DavidS. you could get a combined log or have stdout and stderr immortal.run/post/stderr
    – nbari
    Nov 11, 2017 at 15:20

Startup and respawning processes are managed by "systemd" since Ubuntu 15.04, a good introduction can be found here


an example that get you started is available on


This approach supersedes older ones based on /etc/inittab and upstart.


If you don't need daemon/service/background process functionality and just want to do it in the console then create a file called autorestart.sh:


while [ 1 ]; do

Then ./autorestart.sh will automatically restart some_command if it exits or crashes. CTRL-C breaks the loop and quits the program cleanly.

Tested on Ubuntu 18.04.


There is a way without "Upstart". The keyword is "inittab" :-). Although that's a file not usually altered from default, it can be used to achieve the desired respawning on SYSV machines.

  • I don't understand why someone REJECTED this solution. If you don't understand it, just google it; it's pointless to cut and paste here the man pages of initttab, you can read them yourself on your system! just type "man inittab"...
    – cepal67
    Jun 16, 2015 at 14:26
  • 16
    High quality answers detail more than "use this, figure it out on your own" :)
    – Seth
    Jun 17, 2015 at 0:13

ps-watcher is a tool that watches which processes are running and executes an action on defined circumstances. Let’s install it:

apt-get install ps-watcher

See the bottom of Running HHVM with fallback to PHP-FPM for details - this has worked well for me.

  • Since it's not very long please add a summary of the code instead of the article because only a very short section applies to this question.
    – derHugo
    Sep 19, 2017 at 5:48

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