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Is there anything like ~/.config/systemd/user/ and systemctl --user start ... for Upstart?

initctl --user ... required UPSTART_SESSION environment variable, looks like --user here has different meaning from systemd.

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It has indeed. upstart has multiple per-session instances of itself, one per login session per user. systemd has per-user instances of itself, one per user for that user in all contexts (and outwith any individual login session).

Further reading

  • Adding on to this, to use Upstart as a session init one must invoke it as an unprivileged user, for example from xinitrc. Only the child processes will have the UPSTART_SESSION variable and be able to access the running instance via initctl. – CameronNemo Aug 14 '18 at 2:58

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