fleet Documentation

Unit Files

Unit files are the primary means of interacting with fleet. They define what you want to do, and how fleet should do it.

fleet will schedule any valid service, socket, path or timer systemd unit to a machine in the cluster, taking into account a few special properties in the [X-Fleet] section. If you're new to using systemd unit files, check out the Getting Started with systemd guide.

Unit Requirements

The unit name must be of the form string.suffix or string@instance.suffix, where:

  • string must not be an empty string and can only contain alphanumeric characters and any of :_.@-. Formally, it must match the regular expression [a-zA-Z0-9:_.@-]+
  • instance can be empty, and can only contain the same characters as are valid for string. Formally, it must match the regular expression [a-zA-Z0-9:_.@-]*
  • suffix must be one of the following unit types: service, socket, device, mount, automount, timer, path

Note that these requirements are derived directly from systemd, with the only exception that the unit types are a subset of those supported by systemd.

fleet-specific Options

Option Name Description
MachineID Require the unit be scheduled to the machine identified by the given string.
MachineOf Limit eligible machines to the one that hosts a specific unit.
MachineMetadata Limit eligible machines to those with this specific metadata.
Conflicts Prevent a unit from being collocated with other units using glob-matching on the other unit names.
Global Schedule this unit on all agents in the cluster. A unit is considered invalid if options other than MachineMetadata are provided alongside Global=true.

See more information on these parameters and how they impact scheduling decisions.

In versions of fleet <= 0.8.0, the following options are available. They are deprecated and should be migrated to the new options as soon as possible.

Option Name Description
X-ConditionMachineID Deprecated in v0.8.0 in favor of MachineID
X-ConditionMachineOf Deprecated in v0.8.0 in favor of MachineOf
X-ConditionMachineMetadata Deprecated in v0.8.0 in favor of MachineMetadata
X-Conflicts Deprecated in v0.8.0 in favor of Conflicts

Take the following as an example of how your [X-Fleet] section could be written:

Description=Some Monitoring Service



Template unit files

fleet provides support for using systemd's instances feature to dynamically create instance units from a common template unit file. This allows you to have a single unit configuration and easily and dynamically create new instances of the unit as necessary.

To use instance units, simply create a unit file whose name matches the <name>@.<suffix> format - for example, hello@.service - and submit it to fleet. You can then instantiate units by creating new units that match the instance pattern <name>@<instance>.<suffix> - in this case, for example, hello@world.service or hello@1.service - and fleet will automatically utilize the relevant template unit. For a detailed example, see the example deployment.

When working with instance units, it is strongly recommended that all units be entirely homogenous. This means that any unit created as, say, foo@1.service, should be created only from the unit named foo@.service. This homogeneity will be enforced by the fleet API in future.

systemd specifiers

When evaluating the [X-Fleet] section, fleet supports a subset of systemd's specifiers to perform variable substitution. The following specifiers are currently supported:

Specifier Description
%n Full unit name
%N Unescaped full unit name
%p Unescaped prefix name
%i Instance name

For more information, refer to the official systemd documentation.

Unit Scheduling

When working with units, fleet distinguishes between two types of units: non-global (the default) and global. (A global unit is one with Global=true in its X-Fleet section, as mentioned above).

Non-global units are scheduled by the fleet engine - the engine is responsible for deciding where they should be placed in the cluster.

Global units can run on every possible machine in the fleet cluster. While global units are not scheduled through the engine, fleet agents still check the MachineMetadata option before starting them. Other options are ignored.

For more details on the specific behavior of the engine, read more about fleet's architecture and data model.

User-Defined Requirements

For non-global units, several different directives are available to control the engine's scheduling decision.

Schedule unit to specific machine

The MachineID option of a unit file causes the system to schedule a unit to a machine identified by the option's value.

The ID of each machine is currently published in the MACHINE column in the output of fleetctl list-machines -l. One must use the entire ID when setting MachineID - the shortened ID returned by fleetctl list-machines without the -l flag is not acceptable.

fleet depends on its host to generate an identifier at /etc/machine-id, which is handled today by systemd. Read more about machine IDs in the official systemd documentation.

Schedule unit to machine with specific metadata

The MachineMetadata option of a unit file allows you to set conditional metadata required for a machine to be elegible.

MachineMetadata="region=us-east-1" "diskType=SSD"

This requires an eligible machine to have at least the region and diskType keys set accordingly. A single key may also be defined multiple times, in which case only one of the conditions needs to be met:


This would allow a machine to match just one of the provided values to be considered eligible to run.

A machine is not automatically configured with metadata. A deployer may define machine metadata using the metadata config option.

Schedule unit next to another unit

In order for a unit to be scheduled to the same machine as another unit, a unit file can define MachineOf. The value of this option is the exact name of another unit in the system, which we'll call the target unit.

If the target unit is not found in the system, the follower unit will be considered unschedulable. Once the target unit is scheduled somewhere, the follower unit will be scheduled there as well.

Follower units will reschedule themselves around the cluster to ensure their MachineOf options are always fulfilled.

Note that currently MachineOf cannot be a bidirectional dependency: i.e., if unit foo.service has MachineOf=bar.service, then bar.service must not have a MachineOf=foo.service, or fleet will be unable to schedule the units.

Schedule unit away from other unit(s)

The value of the Conflicts option is a glob pattern defining which other units next to which a given unit must not be scheduled. A unit may have multiple Conflicts options.

If a unit is scheduled to the system without an Conflicts option, other units' conflicts still take effect and prevent the new unit from being scheduled to machines where conflicts exist.

Dynamic requirements

fleet supports several systemd specifiers to allow requirements to be dynamically determined based on a Unit's name. This means that the same unit can be used for multiple Units and the requirements are dynamically substituted when the Unit is scheduled.

For example, a Unit by the name foo.service, whose unit contains the following snippet:


would result in an effective MachineOf of foo.socket. Using the same unit snippet with a Unit called bar.service, on the other hand, would result in an effective MachineOf of bar.socket.