Manage systemd with graphical tools

All Encompassing

Both Kcmsystemd and Systemd-kcm have additional tabs that let you to configure Systemd further. The Systemd, Preferences, Journald, and Logind tabs are arranged horizontally from left to right in the program window. The Systemd tab lets you configure individual settings for logging, starting the system, and dealing with a crash; under Preferences, you will find options for timing when to start and stop individual units.

The Journald tab contains setting options for the journal. Systemd keeps journals, but, unlike SysVinit, Systemd's journals are in binary form. Therefore, you can't view the entries using conventional commands such as cat, tail, or less, but only with the help of Journalctl.

In the Journald tab, you can define the rentention period for the journal entries, the maximum size of the journal file, and whether the system compresses it. In this section, you also specify the maximum number of entries in the journal within a defined period (Figure 3). You can avoid oversized and therefore confusing journal files by making sensible settings.

Figure 3: Kcmsystemd offers several options for configuring the journal.

The Logind tab offers some settings of the login daemon for virtual terminals and for power management. Changes to these settings require a system reboot.

Systemd-kcm and SystemdGenie

At first glance, the Systemd-kcm and SystemdGenie frontends, which were developed for the Plasma 5 desktop, differ only slightly from the KDE-SC 4.x version: They also provide a tabular list of the processes, along with selection and search fields.

SystemdGenie provides the buttons for reloading the configuration and starting and disabling units in the Table View, rather than at the bottom of the window. The tool also offers a menu line and uses a different tab structure.

Both of the newer Systemd GUIs retain the overlapping information window when you hover the mouse pointer over a unit. However, the window displays significantly less information than the previous version (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The software displays information on the active unit in an overlapping window.

With Systemd-kcm, you can control the individual units via a context menu that opens after a right-click on the unit. You can also edit the configuration file, not in KWrite, but using an integrated, rudimentary editor.

The System-KCM developers have also modified the tab structure: The Setup section summarizes the configuration of the login and journald processes. After activating the tab, you select the desired configuration file from a selection field in the upper-right corner. A table of the existing parameters then appears below.

The small info windows that appear when hovering the mouse pointer over the options are very helpful. The individual parameters appear in a selection field after clicking on the option; this approach helps to avoid misconfiguration. The Sessions and Timers tabs are for information purposes only, and the User Units tab contains processes started by the user (Figure 5).

Figure 5: SystemdGenie and Systemd-KCM look almost like identical twins.

SystemdGenie adopts the tab structure of Systemd-kcm and also offers the option of editing configuration files. You can modify the configuration of individual units using the context menu. Unlike Systemd-kcm, SystemdGenie calls help texts either from context menus or via the Open Man Page button, which make it easier for inexperienced users to enter the parameters correctly. You can use Unit from the menu bar to manage and edit the individual processes. The Daemon menu offers the option to completely reload or re-run the system.


The three Systemd graphical interfaces developed for the KDE desktop are very similar visually, but they differ considerably in their functions. Kcmsystemd, Systemd-kcm, and SystemdGenie all provide a range of options that goes far beyond starting and stopping individual units. If you prefer Gnome instead of KDE, see the box entitled "Alternatives" for a summary of Systemd GUI options.


Systemd System Manager and Systemd Manager are graphical management tools for Gnome and other GTK3+-based desktop environments. However, their functionality is significantly less than that of the tools designed for KDE Plasma. Another option is Cockpit [6], a web-based administration tool that is not bound to any desktop environment. Cockpit, which left a favorable impression, is similar in functionality to the KDE tools and works with any popular web browser.

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