I'm working on a small control panel for my server. I need a command that will say if httpd is running or stopped.

Will probably be using the same code for other services as well.

2 Answers 2


Most people run their httpd (Apache, Nginx, etc) through an init system. That's almost certainly the case if you've installed from a package. Almost all of these init systems have a method work working out if it's running. In my case I'm using nginx which ships a SysV-style init script and that accepts a status argument, like so:

$ /etc/init.d/nginx status
 * nginx is running

Obviously if you're running a different httpd, script or init system, you're going to have a slightly different syntax but unless you're manually launching the httpd yourself (which feels like the worst idea in the world), you're probably using a nice, managed start-up script that will allow you to query the status.

slm's answer has more about this sort of init querying but the problem with trusting that is it only really tells you if a process is still running. Your httpd's main process could be running but in some way deadlocked. It makes a lot of sense to skip simple init tests and move on to behavioural tests.

One thing we know about httpds is they listen. Usually on port *:80, but if yours doesn't, you can adapt the code following code. Here I'm just awking the output of netstat to see if it's listening on the right port.

$ sudo netstat -ntlp | awk '$4==""'
tcp        0      0    *               LISTEN      2079/nginx

We could also check which process is running too to make sure the right httpd is running. We could do all sorts of checks. Depends how paranoid you want to be :)

But even that is only a reflection of an httpd. Want to really test it? Well let's test it.

$ wget --spider -S "http://localhost" 2>&1 | awk '/HTTP\// {print $2}'

I'm just looking at the response code (200 means "A-Okay!") but again, we could dig in and actually test the output to make sure it's being generated correctly.

But even this isn't that thorough. You're checking localhost and it's reporting 200, nothing wrong? What if beavers chewed through the network cable that supplies the httpd (but not the rest of the system)? Then what?! You're reporting uptime when you're actually down. Few things look more unprofessional than incorrect status data.

So let's talk to an external server (ideally on a completely different connection, in another galaxy far, far away) and ask it to query our server:

$ ssh tank 'wget --spider -S "http://bert" 2>&1' | awk '/HTTP\// {print $2}'

By this point, any issues have reported are either in-app issues (which can have their own error -handling and -reporting, or they're at the client's end).

A combination of these tests can help nail down where the issue is too.

  • 3
    what happened to httpd?
    – Creek
    Jun 7, 2014 at 15:47
  • @Creek What do you mean?
    – Oli
    Jun 7, 2014 at 15:48
  • 4
    +1 for a good answer but OP asked about httpd and you used nginx
    – Creek
    Jun 7, 2014 at 15:54
  • 4
    @Creek In my books, "httpd" means "http daemon; a web server". Not a specific one. What do you think I should be doing differently? I don't know how I could check one any more thoroughly without needing to buy it a drink first.
    – Oli
    Jun 7, 2014 at 15:58
  • 3
    If I could buy you a drink for saying that I would, classic. I think OP meant apache's httpd
    – Creek
    Jun 7, 2014 at 16:02

You can use the services command universally on most Linux distros.

$ service <service> status


$ service httpd status
httpd (pid  23569) is running...

This same command can be used for all services that are running on an individual basis or to find all the services' status.

$ service --status-all
python is stopped
automount (pid 22457) is running...
Avahi daemon is not running
Avahi DNS daemon is not running
crond (pid  23577) is running...
gpm is stopped
hald is stopped
httpd (pid  23569) is running...

The various methods within SysVinit, Systemd, and Upstart for listing services

If you're using one of the more typical service management frameworks you can use the following methods to list the services within each.


$  ls -l /etc/init.d/ | head -10
total 220
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1422 Jan 13  2009 ajaxterm
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  3052 Apr 20  2012 autofs
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1877 Apr 13  2011 avahi-daemon
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1824 Apr 13  2011 avahi-dnsconfd
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1926 Feb 22  2012 crond
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 14291 Dec 19  2011 functions
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1778 Jan  6  2007 gpm
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1586 Mar  5  2011 haldaemon
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  5742 Dec 19  2011 halt


$ systemctl list-unit-files --type=service | head -10
UNIT FILE                                   STATE   
abrt-ccpp.service                           enabled 
abrt-oops.service                           enabled 
abrt-pstoreoops.service                     disabled
abrt-vmcore.service                         enabled 
abrt-xorg.service                           enabled 
abrtd.service                               enabled 
accounts-daemon.service                     enabled 
alsa-restore.service                        static  
alsa-state.service                          static  


$ initctl list | head -10
avahi-daemon start/running, process 1090
mountall-net stop/waiting
nmbd start/running, process 2045
passwd stop/waiting
rc stop/waiting
rsyslog start/running, process 1088
tty4 start/running, process 1211
udev start/running, process 483
upstart-udev-bridge start/running, process 480
ureadahead-other stop/waiting


  • This is the correct answer as far as I know. But the OP had accepted the other one :)
    – Ramesh
    Jun 7, 2014 at 16:34
  • @Ramesh - that's OK, Oli's A is correct too, it's just a bit more esoteric.
    – slm
    Jun 7, 2014 at 16:34

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