launchd is an open-source daemon intended to streamline and accelerate starting and stopping of processes on a *nix OS. It is intended to totally replace the following daemons or systems of scripts:

  • inetd/xinetd
  • init and init.d
  • rc and rc.d
  • atd
  • crond
  • watchdogd
  • SystemStarter

The wikipedia page is also a good basic launchd reference.

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