immortal runs a command or script detached from the controlling terminal as a Unix daemon, it will supervise and restart the service if it has been terminated. The service can be controlled by querying a Unix socket “immortal.sock”, this allows to remotely have full control over the service if required by exposing the socket using a web server like Nginx.

immortal [-v] [-ctl dir] [-d dir] [-e dir] [-f pidfile] [-l logfile] [-logger logger] [-p child_pidfile] [-P supervisor_pidfile] [-u user] command

-d dir Change to directory <dir> before starting the command

-e dir Set environment variables specified by files within the <dir>. For example, if <dir> is /tmp/env and contains 3 files:

    |--DEBUG  (contains true)
    |--DBHOST (contains
    `--DBPASS (contains secret)

An environment var is going to be created for each file, in this case:


-f pidfile Follow PID in pidfile.

In some cases it is required to supervise applications that daemonize by default. Normally this kind of applications create a pidfile every time they fork, the one can be used to follow subsequent forks and avoid creating a race condition between the supervisor trying to start again the process and the forks created by the application.

If using immortalctl the color yellow on the Down column, helps to identify does process that have been forked and that currently are been supervised by the PID on the <pidfile>. When the supervised application forks and creates a <pidfile> a log entry (level DAEMON) will be created:

Watching pid <int> on file <pidfile>

The follow pid option has better performance on Unix/BSD due the kernel event notification mechanism kqueue(2).

-l logfile Write stdout/stderr to <logfile>

-logger command A command <command> to pipe stdout/stderr from stdin. Besides writing logs locally by using the option -l, they can be sent to a remote host or by processed by another tool, for example to write logs locally and send logs remotely using logger this could be used:

-l /var/log/app.log --logger "logger -h -t app"

-P pidfile Path to write the supervisor pidfile

-p pidfile Path to write the child pidfile

-s seconds Seconds (int) <seconds> to wait before starting.

-u user Execute command on behalf <user>

-v Print version

The configuration file

-c <service name>.yml A configuration file with valid YAML syntax, when using this option, it will overwrite other options, configuration format:

cmd: <command to execute>
cwd: <change workding directory> # option -d
env:                             # option -e
    <key>: <value>
    follow: <pidfile>            # option -f
    parent: <pidfile>            # option -P
    child: <pidfile>             # option -p
    file: <path>                 # option -l
    age: <int>   # seconds
    num: <int>   # int
    size: <int>  # MegaBytes
logger: <command>                # option -logger
user: <user>                     # option -u
wait: <int>                      # option -s
require:                         # list of services needed before starting
  - foo
  - bar

-ctl /var/run/immortal/<service> Path where the supervise directory will be created. This directory is unique per service and is used to manage the service via a Unix socket besides preventing running multiple times the same service by using a lock.

A supervise directory containing two files:


When calling immortal from the command line, not by using immortaldir(8) as root, the supervise directory, will be created on a hidden directory named “.immortal” within the $HOME of the user:


This helps to run and supervise the same command multiple times without colliding, useful for testing or for temporary services that will exit when server reboots.

To keep services up and running on boot time, is better to create a configuration file “run.yml” and use immortaldir(8).


IMMORTAL_SDIR This environment variable allows to override the default supervise directory /var/run/immortal, used also by immortalctl and immortaldir


Run command and restart it when finishes:

immortal /bin/sh -c "date && sleep 5 > /tmp/sleep.log"

Run command, restart it when finishes and log output to file:

immortal -l /tmp/sleep.log /bin/sh -c "date && sleep 5"

Run command, restart it when finishes, log output to file and to external logger:

immortal -l /tmp/sleep.log -logger "tee /tmp/sleep2.log" /bin/sh -c "date && sleep 5"

Run command, restart it when finishes, log output to file, wait 2 seconds before start:

immortal -s 2 -l /tmp/sleep.log /bin/sh -c "date && sleep 5"

Run a command, restart it when finishes, log output to file, and follow pid if it forks:

immortal -l /tmp/x.log -logger "tee /tmp/y.log" -f ./  bundle exec unicorn -c unicorn.rb

Run a command, restart it when finishes, log output to file and create supervice dir in /tmp/immortal/sleep

immortal -l /tmp/sleep.log -ctl /tmp/immortal/sleep /bin/sh -c "sleep 5 && date"

For making immortalctl work using the -ctl <dir> the IMMORTAL_SDIR environment var should be set to /tmp/immortal

Configuration example:

cmd: bundle exec unicorn -c unicorn.rb
cwd: /test/unicorn
    DEBUG: 1
    ENVIROMENT: production
    follow: /test/unicorn/
    parent: /tmp/
    child: /tmp/
    file: /tmp/app.log
    age: 86400 # seconds
    num: 7     # int
    size: 1    # MegaBytes
logger: filebeat -c filebeat.yml -v -once
user: www
wait: 1

Notice that when using the option -u/user, superuser privileges will be required

Nginx example to manage remotely the service:

immortal -l /tmp/sleep.log -ctl /tmp/immortal/sleep /bin/sh -c "sleep 5 && date"

Based on your shell set IMMORTAL_SDIR

setenv IMMORTAL_SDIR /tmp/immortal


export IMMORTAL_SDIR=/tmp/immortal

This is only required for making immortalctl to work, you can query directly the socket using curl, for example:

curl --unix-socket immortal.sock http:/status -s | jq

Will output something like:

  "pid": 7713,
  "up": "4.2s",
  "cmd": "sleep 5",
  "fpid": false,
  "count": 4

Nginx configuration:

upstream immortal {
    server unix:/tmp/immortal/sleep/immortal.sock;

server {
listen 80 default_server;
server_name _;
location / {
    proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
    proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
    proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
    proxy_set_header X-NginX-Proxy true;
    proxy_http_version 1.1; # for keep-alive
    proxy_pass http://immortal/;
    proxy_redirect off;

In some cases you may have to change permissions of the socket:

chmod 766 /tmp/immortal/sleep/immortal.sock

To check the service status:


To send signals:


For example to stop the service:


To start the service:


To stop the supervisor and the service:


The responses are in JSON format.

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