fleet Documentation

Unit Files

fleet is no longer actively developed or maintained by CoreOS. CoreOS instead recommends Kubernetes for cluster orchestration.

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: automount, busname, device, mount, path, scope, service, slice, snapshot, socket, swap, target, timer
  • suffix of templates must be one of the following unit types: path, service, socket, target, timer. Other types such as mount are not allowed to be used for templates.

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 those agents in the cluster, which satisfy the conditions of both MachineMetadata and Conflicts if any of them is also given. A unit is considered invalid if options other than MachineMetadata and Conflicts are provided alongside Global=true. If MachineMetadata is provided alongside Global=true, only the agents having the metadata can be scheduled on. If Conflicts is provided alongside Global=true, only the agents not having the conflicting units can be scheduled on. The conflicting units also can not be scheduled on the agents which already have the existing conflicting global unit.
Replaces Schedule a specified unit on another machine. A unit is considered invalid if options Global or Conflicts are provided alongside Replaces=. A circular replacement between multiple units is not allowed.

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.

Definition of the Install Section

Unit files which have an [Install] section will be automatically enabled by fleet. This means that the states of such unit files cannot be tracked by fleet. For example, assume we have loaded this my.service unit file:

ExecStart=/bin/bash -c "while true; do echo my.service unit file; sleep 1; done"

and then loaded an additional sidekick discovery unit my_discovery.service:


ExecStart=/bin/bash -c "while true; do echo my_discovery.service unit file; sleep 1; done"



fleet will load and enable the my_discovery.service unit above because it contains an [Install] section. When my.service is started, systemd will also start my_discovery.service, independent of the desired state defined for my_discovery.service in fleet. This can cause confusion between the output of fleetctl list-units and systemctl list-units, which will not match in this scenario. Use fleetctl status my_discovery.service to explicitly identify the service and get its actual unit status.

If systemd can not enable the unit which has [Install] section, fleet will interrupt load process and return an error.

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. This logic could be represented as follows:

region=us-east-1 AND diskType=SSD

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. This logic could be represented as follows:

region=us-east-1 OR region=us-west-1

If we combine two previous examples in one:

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

the logic would be as follows:

diskType=SSD AND (region=us-east-1 OR region=us-west-1)

Grouping metadata pairs onto separate lines has no affect on the matching logic:

MachineMetadata="region=us-east-1" "job=foo"
MachineMetadata="region=us-west-1" "job=bar"

will be interpreted as:

(job=foo OR job=bar) AND (region=us-east-1 OR region=us-west-1)

The previous example schedules at most one unit across your cluster, depending on the first satisfied requirement. If you add Global=true:

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

then fleet will schedule this unit on all machines which meet these requirements:

$ fleetctl list-machines
MACHINE         IP         METADATA
282f949f... diskType=SSD,region=us-east-1
f139c5a6... region=us-east-1
fd1d3e94...   diskType=SSD,region=us-west-1
$ fleetctl list-units
UNIT            MACHINE                 ACTIVE  SUB
app.service     282f949f.../  active  running
app.service     fd1d3e94.../    active  running

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

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.