With sysvinit, a sudoers entry like this would suffice:

%webteam cms051=/sbin/service httpd *

This would allow for commands such as:

  • sudo service httpd status
  • sudo service httpd restart

Now, with systemd, the service name is the final argument. I.e., the service restart would be done with:

systemctl restart httpd.service

Naturally, I thought defining the command as systemctl * httpd.service would work but that would allow something like systemctl restart puppet.service httpd.service which is not the desired effect.

With that being considered, what would be the best way allow non-root users to control a systemd service then? This doesn't need to be sudoers; perhaps a file permission change may be sufficient?

  • I haven't touched a sudo configuration in a while, but couldn't you just do something like cms051=systemctl * httpd.service ? Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 17:29
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    This would allow you to restart any service then. I should have included that tidbit in the question. Sorry. Commented Mar 26, 2015 at 17:30
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    None of the answers here even touches upon PolicyKit, as described in answers to unix.stackexchange.com/q/496982/5132 , even though the question states that the mechanism does not have to be sudo.
    – JdeBP
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 5:19

6 Answers 6


Just add all needed commands to sudoers separately:

%webteam cms051=/usr/bin/systemctl restart httpd.service
%webteam cms051=/usr/bin/systemctl stop httpd.service
%webteam cms051=/usr/bin/systemctl start httpd.service 
  • 21
    status isn't useful, as any user can do that
    – Dereckson
    Commented Jan 30, 2017 at 0:51
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    What is cms051?
    – kevin
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 8:54
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    @kevin cms501 is a host name or an host name list alias. See linux.die.net/man/5/sudoers
    – jofel
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 10:24
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    So what will happen if I invoke systemctl restart http.service mariadb.service ;-) ? Probably mariadb will be restarted also Commented May 17, 2018 at 7:16
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    Does this still work on a recent Linux system (e.g. Ubuntu)? Because if I do so I am getting an authentication request: Authentication is required to start....
    – Robert
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 10:01

@jofel's answer was exactly what I needed to get a working setup. POsting this for anyone else stumbling on this question. I needed a way to have capistrano restart my Ruby application after deploying from my local machine. That means I needed passwordless access to restarting systemd services. THIS is what I have and it works wonderfully!

Note: my user and group is called deployer
Put code in a custom file here: /etc/sudoers.d/deployer

%deployer ALL= NOPASSWD: /bin/systemctl start my_app
%deployer ALL= NOPASSWD: /bin/systemctl stop my_app
%deployer ALL= NOPASSWD: /bin/systemctl restart my_app
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    I need to add that after logging in as the user deployer in the case, you should run the systemctl command with sudo.
    – Muyiwa Olu
    Commented Mar 24, 2019 at 10:04
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    This worked well for me, awesome!
    – Mo Beigi
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 6:48
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    If on CentOS: deployer ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD:/bin/systemctl reload httpd,/bin/systemctl status httpd
    – mikesl
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 4:09
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    hmhm, somehow it still doesn't work for me on CentOS 7.9...
    – xealits
    Commented Dec 3, 2021 at 1:40
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    Doesn't appear to work on Ubuntu 20.04. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 19:52

Create a command alias with the commands you want them to have access to. Then assign the group to that command alias:

Cmnd_Alias APACHE-SVC = /usr/bin/systemctl stop httpd, /usr/bin/systemctl start httpd, /usr/bin/systemctl restart httpd


It is also good practice to place any edits in your /etc/sudoers.d/filename rather than directly editing the sudoers file. Make sure to point to your .d/filename in the sudoers, which most new distros do anyway. Placing these 2 lines in your sudoers should do the trick:

## Read drop-in files from /etc/sudoers.d (the # here does not mean a comment)
#includedir /etc/sudoers.d

Note: That # in front of the includedir is not a comment. It must remain.

  • How add chance to execute stop/start/restart whithout enter password? Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 10:58
  • Best answer IMO. Everyone should add a command alias and work with this.
    – DASKAjA
    Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 14:25
  • Managed to lock myself out of my system by doing this, since one doesn't have the automatic safety check of visudo and sudo does not aut roll back to a working version. Calling this "good practice" seems questionable to me. Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 19:51

It's safest to itemize them as jofel suggests.

If I wanted to allow someone to use a limited subset of a command's abilities, I would not trust wildcards in a sudoers line to do it. Even if the language was more expressive than shell globs, there are just too many corner cases to keep track of.

The "service httpd *" line is relatively safe because (verify this:) service only has one useful flag (--status-all) which doesn't do anything particularly sensitive, and (verify this too:) /etc/init.d/httpd will only accept the command lines you want to allow.

If there are so many combinations that listing them out becomes awkward, you should probably question what you are doing. But you could give them access to a carefully written helper script that runs the command for them (much like /etc/init.d/http). Even in this case you should be as precise and explicit as possible to list out exactly what commands and options are allowed, and don't pass any user input directly to the target command.



An alternate option is to have an httpd.service file under webteam home directory ~/.config/systemd/user and they can start/stop/enable etc themselves:

systemctl --user enable httpd.service
systemctl --user start httpd.service

Validated that the above works as long as the user has permission to start the service. This seems useful on dev systems allowing the developers to also do timers and pipelines effectively with all the configs available to them as supposed to in devops/ops hands.

Also seems like it would be beneficial for moving it to prod with the whole startup sequence tested in an actual server environment using the operations built httpd, and not have the devs say "but it worked on my laptop and broke when I pushed to dev". But I am just thinking and writing here.

Best online ref, as the systemd user documentation is not copious:


  • This should be the accepted answer. - Here's another in depth look at the approach: computingforgeeks.com/… Commented Nov 7, 2022 at 9:51
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    This answer describes how to run a service as a non root user. What this question is about is a non root user controlling a standard systemd service, the other way around. Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 14:06

Since many (most?) Unixes and Linuxes that use the systemd init system also provide the service command as a high-level interface to it (source), often could simply keep the same configuration you're used to from the sysvinit init system.

So, in a a file /etc/sudoers.d/webteam you would write:

%webteam cms051=/sbin/service httpd *

which then enables users in group webteam to use all actions on service httpd when calling with sudo, such as sudo service httpd restart.

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