I expected systemctl --user enable SERVICE to start the service on login, which is not happening. Then what is it supposed to mean?

  • Is your user session using systemd? Dec 1, 2014 at 6:52
  • 1
    What exactly do you mean? Can I check this in any way? I'm running arch linux. And systemd is the default since 2012-10-13. I installed my OS this summer. Does this answer your question?
    – x-yuri
    Dec 1, 2014 at 7:13
  • 3
    Have you followed wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Systemd/User ? Dec 1, 2014 at 8:31
  • Apparently, yes. But I missed the fact that when it starts, it brings up the target default.target. I just copied the file as is and failed to realize that I've got yet to change the target.
    – x-yuri
    Dec 3, 2014 at 21:54

3 Answers 3


It makes the unit start on first login of a user, but for that corresponding unit file should have WantedBy = default.target or something along the lines. Because when user instance of systemd starts, it brings up the default.target target.

  • My chrome-remote-desktop.service has [Install] / Alias=chromoting.service / WantedBy=default.target, but I still have to start it manually on first login, any idea?
    – tokland
    Jun 8, 2021 at 21:56
  • @tokland Have you enabled the service? systemctl is-enabled chrome-remote-desktop
    – x-yuri
    Jun 9, 2021 at 4:00
  • $ systemctl --user is-enabled chrome-remote-desktop -> enabled
    – tokland
    Jun 9, 2021 at 8:20
  • 1
    @tokland systemd --user instance is not launched on login? Maybe this will provide some clues.
    – x-yuri
    Jun 9, 2021 at 14:47

systemctl --user enable SERVICE will do nothing unless the related unit file has an [Install] section. the [Install] section lets systemd know which symlinks to set up with enable is used. From the docs:

Unit files may include an "[Install]" section, which carries installation information for the unit. This section is not interpreted by systemd(1) during runtime; it is used by the enable and disable commands of the systemctl(1) tool during installation of a unit.


systemd --user runs as a separate process from the systemd --system process. User units can not reference or depend on system units or units of other users.

Cannot have

After=network.target network-online.target
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