Jsvc is a set of libraries and applications for making Java applications run on UNIX more easily.
Jsvc allows the application (e.g. Tomcat) to perform some privileged operations as root (e.g. bind to a port < 1024), and then switch identity to a non-privileged user.
It can run on Win32 via the Cygwin emulation layer (see Cygwin for more information), however Win32 users may prefer to use procrun instead, which allows the application to run as a Windows Service.

The sources are located in the src/native/unix subdirectory.

In the future APR may be used to provide more portable platform support.

Building from source

To build under a UNIX operating system you will need:

  • GNU AutoConf (at least version 2.53)
  • An ANSI-C compliant compiler (GCC is good)
  • GNU Make
  • A Java Platform 2 compliant SDK
You need to build the "configure" program with:
sh support/
(Note it is possible to replace sh by any compatible shell like bash, ksh). The result should be something like:
support/ configure script generated successfully
Once the configure script is generated, follow the next section.

Building from a release tarball

To build the binary under a UNIX operating system you will need:

  • An ANSI-C compliant compiler (GCC is good)
  • GNU Make
  • A Java Platform 2 compliant SDK
You have to specify the JAVA_HOME of the SDK either with the --with-java=<dir> parameter or set the JAVA_HOME environment to point to your SDK installation. For example:
./configure --with-java=/usr/java
export JAVA_HOME
If your operating system is supported, configure will go through cleanly, otherwise it will report an error (please send us the details of your OS/JDK, or a patch against the sources). To build the binaries and libraries simply do:
This will generate the executable file jsvc.

Starting jsvc

To check the allowed parameters for the jsvc binary simply do:

./jsvc -help
Usage: jsvc [-options] class [args...]

Where options include:

    -help | --help | -?
        show this help page (implies -nodetach)
    -jvm <JVM name>
        use a specific Java Virtual Machine. Available JVMs:
            'client' 'server'
        use a client Java Virtual Machine.
        use a server Java Virtual Machine.
    -cp / -classpath <directories and zip/jar files>
        set search path for service classes and resouces
    -home <directory>
        set the path of your JDK or JRE installation (or set
        the JAVA_HOME environment variable)
        show the current Java environment version (to check
        correctness of -home and -jvm. Implies -nodetach)
        show the current Java environment version (to check
        correctness of -home and -jvm) and continue execution.
        don't detach from parent process and become a daemon
        verbosely print debugging information
        only check service (implies -nodetach)
    -user <user>
        user used to run the daemon (defaults to current user)
        enable verbose output
    -cwd </full/path>
        set working directory to given location (defaults to /)
    -outfile </full/path/to/file>
        Location for output from stdout (defaults to /dev/null)
        Use the value '&2' to simulate '1>&2'
    -errfile </full/path/to/file>
        Location for output from stderr (defaults to /dev/null)
        Use the value '&1' to simulate '2>&1'
    -pidfile </full/path/to/file>
        Location for output from the file containing the pid of jsvc
        (defaults to /var/run/
        set a Java system property
        set Virtual Machine specific option
        enable assertions
        disable assertions
    -esa | -enablesystemassertions
        enable system assertions
    -dsa | -disablesystemassertions
        disable system assertions
        load native agent library <libname>, e.g. -agentlib:hprof
        load native agent library by full pathname
        load Java programming language agent, see java.lang.instrument
    -procname <procname>
        use the specified process name (works only for Linux)
    -wait <waittime>
        wait waittime seconds for the service to start
        waittime should multiple of 10 (min=10)
        stop the service using the file given in the -pidfile option
        does not redirect stdin to /dev/null

Mac OS X universal binaries

If jsvc was build with universal binary support the proper way of starting jsvc is by using Mac OS X arch command:

    arch -arch i386 ./jsvc -jvm server <original jsvc parameters>

    for running 64-bit JVM use the:
    arch -arch x86_64 ./jsvc -jvm server <original jsvc parameters>

Use -jvm server because default client JVM is not present for all architectures.

Using jsvc

There two ways to use jsvc: via a Class that implements the Daemon interface or via calling a Class that has the required methods. For example Tomcat-4.1.x uses the Daemon interface whereas Tomcat-5.0.x provides a Class whose methods are called by jsvc directly.

Via Daemon interface

Do the following:

  • Write a Class that implements the Daemon interface (MyClass).
  • Put it in a jarfile (my.jar).
  • Call jsvc like:
    ./jsvc -cp commons-daemon.jar:my.jar MyClass


Write a Class (MyClass) that implements the following methods:

  • void init(String[] arguments): Here open configuration files, create a trace file, create ServerSockets, Threads
  • void start(): Start the Thread, accept incoming connections
  • void stop(): Inform the Thread to terminate the run(), close the ServerSockets
  • void destroy(): Destroy any object created in init()
Store it in a jarfile and use as above:
./jsvc -cp my.jar MyClass

How jsvc works

Jsvc uses 3 processes: a launcher process, a controller process and a controlled process. The controlled process is also the main java thread, if the JVM crashes the controller will restart it in the next minute. Jsvc is a daemon process so it should be started as root and the -user parameter allows to downgrade to an unprivilegded user. When the -wait parameter is used, the launcher process waits until the controller says "I am ready", otherwise it returns after creating the controller process.

Forks in commons-daemon

Launcher process:

  parent: wait_child(), wait until JAVA service started when the child says "I am ready".
  child: controller process.
Controller process:
  while (fork()) {
    parent: wait_for_child.
      if exited and restart needed continue
      else exit.
    child: exit(child()). controlled process.
Controlled process:
In child(): controlled process.
  say "I am ready"
  wait for signal or poll for stop
  exit (with different codes so that parent knows if it has to restart us).
Note: The controller process uses signals to stop the controlled process.

Downgrading user

On Linux setuid()/setgid() + capabilities are used. On other unix setgid/initgroups are used. We have something like:

/* as root */
load_service. /*  java_load() calls the load method */
downgrade user (set_caps() or set_user_group())
/* as the user $USER (from -user $USER parameter) */
start_service. /* java_start() calls the start method */