Revised systemd target list


Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by David Both

The following table replaces Figure 16-4 in the first edition of Using and Administering Linux: Volume 1 – Zero to SysAdmin: Getting Started on Page 472. The original shows the SystemV runlevels in the leftmost column and is sorted in the historical SystemV sequence. In this replacement I have made the systemd targets the primary column and sorted them in a sequence that makes more sense for systemd. In general, targets with higher levels of functionality are at the top of the table and those with the least functionality are at the bottom.

systemd targetsSystemV runleveltarget aliasesDescription

This target is always aliased with a symbolic link to either or systemd always uses the to start the system. The should never be aliased to,, or with a GUI.

4runlevel4.targetUnused. Runlevel 4 was identical to runlevel 3 in the SystemV world. This target could be created and customized to start local services without changing the default
multi-user.target3runlevel3.targetMultiuser with all services running but command line interface (CLI) only.

2runlevel2.targetMultiuser, without NFS but all other non-GUI services running.
rescue.target1runlevel1.targetA basic system including mounting the filesystems with only the most basic services running and a rescue shell on the main console.
No services are running; filesystems are not mounted. This is the most basic level of operation with only an emergency shell running on the main console for the user to interact with the system. Single user mode in SystemV.

Halts the system without powering it down.
poweroff.target0runlevel0.targetHalts the system and turns the power off.

The revised version of the figure is used in the second edition of this book.