I have successfully created and configured a systemd template for easily spawning instances of similar services.

the template looks like this:

Description=my awesome service %I

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/binary -c /path/to/config/%i.conf
ExecStop=/usr/bin/pkill --full %i


I enabled and started the instance with systemcl enable name@kkk, systemctl start name@kkk and did not create a /path/to/config/kkk.conf file, so the service fails:

~# systemctl status [email protected][email protected] - my awesome service  kkk
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/[email protected]; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: inactive (dead) (Result: exit-code) since Wed 2017-10-04 15:20:09 CEST; 3min 27s ago
  Process: 30116 ExecStop=/usr/bin/pkill --full %i (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
  Process: 30113 ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/binary -c /path/to/config/kkk.conf (code=exited, status=1/FA
 Main PID: 30113 (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)

Oct 04 15:20:08 host systemd[1]: [email protected]: Unit entered failed state.
Oct 04 15:20:08 host systemd[1]: [email protected]: Failed with result 'exit-code'.
Oct 04 15:20:09 host systemd[1]: [email protected]: Service hold-off time over, scheduling restart.
Oct 04 15:20:09 host systemd[1]: Stopped my awesome service for kkk.

If I run systemctl --failed, I get

0 loaded units listed. Pass --all to see loaded but inactive units, too.
To show all installed unit files use 'systemctl list-unit-files'.

which is obviously not correct, because the service is failed. Am I doing something wrong or missing something here? TIA.

  • 1
    The service isn't actually in an inactive state. If you run, "systemctl --failed --all" as suggested, you should see it. Oct 4, 2017 at 13:53
  • you are right, of course. It's just confusing that in the output of the status command it says right there 'unit entered failed state' Oct 4, 2017 at 14:55
  • for what it's worth, I have fixed it by remove the Type=simple (which is the default anyway) and adding a RestartPreventExitStatus=1 directive. Now it fails Oct 4, 2017 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


This is a bug in systemd, where a service which fails all of its restarts gets listed as "inactive" rather than "failed". In my testing it occurs in 229 (default with Ubuntu Xenial), and is fixed in 238; maybe some changelog snooping will reveal which version fixed it.

The best workaround seems to be to remove Restart from your service file and manually handle restarting yourself.


The service is not in a failed state. As you can see here :

Active: inactive (dead) (Result: exit-code) since Wed 2017-10-04 15:20:09 CEST; 3min 27s ago

It is inactive (dead). If it was failed you would get something like this :

Active: failed (Result: exit-code)

To see both failed and inactive services you should use the command :

systemctl --failed --all

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