I am running kali linux.

When I do sudo systemctl start ssh and try to verify with sudo ss -tlp I get the following:

kali@kali:~$ sudo ss -antlp
State                   Recv-Q                  Send-Q                                   Local Address:Port                                   Peer Address:Port                 Process                                           
LISTEN                  0                       128                                                                  *                     users:(("sshd",pid=12926,fd=3))                  
LISTEN                  0                       128                                               [::]:22                                             [::]:*                     users:(("sshd",pid=12926,fd=4))   

So the service is running, however if I run sudo systemctl list-unit-files | grep ssh I get the following:

kali@kali:~$ sudo systemctl list-unit-files  | grep ssh
ssh.service                                                      disabled       
[email protected]                                                     static         
ssh.socket                                                       disabled       
rescue-ssh.target                                                static  
ssh.socket                                                       disabled       

So it is not running, what am I missing here:

  1. Is ssh and ssh.service not the same thing ?
  2. When I run sudo systemctl start ssh am I running a service or something else ?
  • After you start ssh (and it is a service) what does systemctl status ssh return? Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 18:04
  • @ajgringo619, it shows active, I figured it out, there is a difference between having the service running and having it enabled, which is running it automatically at system start up. Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 18:09

1 Answer 1


I misunderstood the output of systemctl list-unit-files.

My service is running as per ss -tlp output, but it is not enabled by default at run time, as shown by systemctl list-unit-files.

Running sudo systemctl enable ssh marks the service as enabled at start up and the output of systemcetl list-unit-files shows that.

  • 1
    Please note that systemctl enable X.service will only trigger the start of the service according to the [Install] section. While this in most cases means at startup, this could also be e.g. when a GUI is started, when a user logs in, or upon request by another service (which possibly could only be manually started). Just to make you aware.
    – FelixJN
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 21:27
  • @Fiximan, I wasn't aware of that. thank you! Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 6:30
  • @Fiximan, do you know which option in [Install] section is determines when the service starts ? I can't find an answer to it here: freedesktop.org/software/systemd/man/systemd.unit.html Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 6:39
  • All do, you can define multiple dependencies. E.g. WantedBy=default.target means "Activate at startup", using graphical.target, would activate when a GUI starts, B.service means when B is started it is triggered. The PartOf=B.service means when B is started or stopped it will be started or stopped, too, RequiedBy=B.service means it will be started with B and if it fails, B will fail. Often it's the inverse of using e.g. Wants= or Requires= in B directly, e.g. if you do not want to alter B.service for some reason. Check special units for e.g. linking to startup or network.
    – FelixJN
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 9:10

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