I'm running a lot of stuff using systemd's user-level service management. So far it's been great being able to take advantage of timers, conditional services, etc. but one thing that is sorely lacking is a persistent journal.

I'm on Ubuntu 16.04. I can see service status via systemctl --user status servicename.service, but I can't see any logs via journalctl:

$ journalctl --user
No journal files were found.
-- No entries --

Is there something that I need to do to get user-level journald support working?

  • Works fine here (Fedora 26). No idea how Ubuntu handles it. Dec 7, 2017 at 4:15
  • Does Fedora run a user journal in its own process? Not sure how the journal works in user mode. Dec 7, 2017 at 4:37

2 Answers 2


Two things:

  1. Ubuntu systemd journal entries are not persistent by default. Edit /etc/systemd/journald.conf and set Storage=persistent to fix that part.
  2. Unfortunately, on Ubuntu 16.04 with systemd 239 journalctl --user --unit= does not mean the same thing as journalctl --user-unit=. While the former may be more intuitive, the latter is likely what you want.
  • 1
    I answered a similar question here for Ubuntu 17.10 where setting Storage=persistent fixed the issue.
    – datu-puti
    Dec 21, 2017 at 18:06

I had not realized that the user I was trying to read logs from was a system user. Systemd directs logs of user services of system accounts to the system journal: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/systemd/User#Reading_the_journal

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