I have created a script to start a server (my first question). Now I want it to run on the system boot and start the defined server. What should I do to get this done?

My findings tell me put this file in the /etc/init.d location, and it will execute when the system will boot. But I am not able to understand how the first argument on the startup will be start? Is this predefined somewhere to use start as $1? If I want to have a case startall that will start all the servers in the script, then what are the options I can manage?

My script is like this:


case "$1" in

    $0 stop
    $0 start
    echo "usage: $0 (start|stop|restart)"
  • I know this is old... but the shell should be '#!/bin/sh' not '#!/bin/bash' /bin/sh is more likely to work in the case of a machine that has issues during startup (e.g. /usr/lib not being able to be mounted) Feb 8, 2013 at 23:04

3 Answers 3


/etc/init.d is the script directory, in which the executable scripts appear. However, in order to run scripts in a particular order after your system starts, you need to add files to the /etc/rc#.d directory. Entries that appear here tell your system in what order and at what run level scripts in /etc/init.d should be run. The number after the rc indicates what run level the machine is running at, according to this chart:


So if you have:


Then you need the (empty) files:


The S means start, and the K means kill. When your machine starts, the system will say "Ah, I'm running at RunLevel 3, let's pop over to rc3.d to see what scripts in '/etc/init.d' need to be run and in what order." In this case, the system will sort by 'S' and then the number after 'S' and will execute '/etc/init.d/importantscript start'. The 20 is just for ordering purposes... your script will run behind 'S19' and in front of 'S21'. You can create these files simply by doing:

sudo touch /etc/rc.d/rc3.d/S20importantscript

Here's a nice summary as well: http://www.linux.com/news/enterprise/systems-management/8116-an-introduction-to-services-runlevels-and-rcd-scripts

  • isn't it more common to "ln -s /etc/init.d/script" to rcX.d/* ?
    – ozma
    Jul 25, 2017 at 8:20

You don't have to --- and shouldn't --- create files in /etc/rc.d/rcN.d/; what you should do instead is put a comment in your init script reading

# chkconfig NNN A B

where NNN is the set of run-levels in which you want the script active (e.g., 345 if it's active in runlevels 3, 4, and 5), and A and B are the start and stop priorities. Then chkconfig --add foo (assuming your script is named foo) will create the files in /etc/rc.d/rcN.d/ with the appropriate names.

You can then use service foo bar to send the bar message to your script (e.g., start, stop, whatever -- that's where your $1 comes from).


The $1 is the command line argument that is passed to your script, it is one of start, stop or restart. In openSUSE, I don't remember having an option to pass other arguments into the script when useing the runlevel editor thingy, so I think that these are probably the only ones you should use.

I don't use CentOS myself, but it seems that the program to control what is started at which runlevel is ntsysv.

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