Here we define a service as, broadly, something that extends the
functionality of the operating system. Often a service is a process—a
daemon—started when the system boots: a secure shell server, a
Web server, the Guix build daemon, etc. Sometimes a service is a daemon
whose execution can be triggered by another daemon—e.g., an FTP server
inetd or a D-Bus service activated by
dbus-daemon. Occasionally, a service does not map to a
daemon. For instance, the “account” service collects user accounts
and makes sure they exist when the system runs; the “udev” service
collects device management rules and makes them available to the eudev
daemon; the /etc service populates the /etc directory
of the system.
Guix system services are connected by extensions. For instance, the
secure shell service extends the Shepherd—the
initialization system, running as PID 1—by giving it the command
lines to start and stop the secure shell daemon (see
openssh-service-type); the UPower service extends the D-Bus
service by passing it its .service specification, and extends the
udev service by passing it device management rules (see
upower-service); the Guix daemon service extends the
Shepherd by passing it the command lines to start and stop the daemon,
and extends the account service by passing it a list of required build
user accounts (see Base Services).
All in all, services and their “extends” relations form a directed acyclic graph (DAG). If we represent services as boxes and extensions as arrows, a typical system might provide something like this:
At the bottom, we see the system service, which produces the
directory containing everything to run and boot the system, as returned
guix system build command. See Service Reference,
to learn about the other service types shown here.
guix system extension-graph
command, for information on how to generate this representation for a
particular operating system definition.
Technically, developers can define service types to express these
relations. There can be any number of services of a given type on the
system—for instance, a system running two instances of the GNU secure
shell server (lsh) has two instances of
The following section describes the programming interface for service types and services.