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Set up a systemd service

This page will take you through how to set up a systemd service for your beacon node.

systemd is used in order to have a command or a program run when your device boots (i.e. add it as a service). Once this is done, you can start/stop enable/disable from the linux prompt.


systemd is a service manager designed specifically for Linux: it cannot be used on Windows / Mac. You can find out more about systemd here.

Package manager installations

When installing Nimbus via your package manager, a user and service will already have been created for you and you can skip straight to the configuration section.

1. Create a dedicated user

We will start by creating a dedicated user and data directory for Nimbus. The same user can also be used for the execution client.

# Create the `nimbus` group
sudo groupadd nimbus

# Create the `nimbus` user in the `nimbus` group - we will use /var/lib/nimbus as data directory.
sudo useradd -g nimbus nimbus -m -d /var/lib/nimbus

2. Create the service file

systemd services are created by placing a service file in /etc/systemd/system, or, if Nimbus was installed by a package manager, /usr/lib/systemd/system.

A good starting point is the example service file in the Nimbus repository.

# Download example service file and save it to `/etc/systemd/system/nimbus_beacon_node.service`
curl -s | sudo tee /etc/systemd/system/nimbus_beacon_node.service > /dev/null

The format of service files is documented in the systemd manual.


Automatic restarts increase the risk that the doppelganger detection fails - set RestartPreventExitStatus=129 to prevent this from happening

3. Configure your service

Services are configured either by editing the service file directly or using systemctl edit to create an override.

# Edit the systemd file to match your installation
sudo vi /etc/systemd/system/nimbus_beacon_node.service

# If you installed nimbus via the package manager, use `systemctl edit` instead
sudo systemctl edit nimbus_beacon_node.service

The service file contains several options for controlling Nimbus. Important options include:

  • Environment=NETWORK: set this to mainnet, holesky or sepolia, depending on which network you want to connect to
  • Environment=WEB3_URL: point this to your execution client, see the Execution Client setup guide
  • Environment=REST_ENABLED: REST is used to interact with the beacon node, in particular when setting up a separate Validator Client, see the REST API guide
  • Environment=METRICS_ENABLED: metrics are used for monitoring the node, see the metrics setup guide
  • ExecStart=: custom options, see the options guide


The example assumes Nimbus was installed in /usr/bin/nimbus_beacon_node. If you installed Nimbus elsewhere, make sure to update this path.

4. Notify systemd of the newly added service

Every time you add or update a service, the systemd daemon must be notified of the changes:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

4. Start the service

# start the beacon node
sudo systemctl start nimbus_beacon_node

# (Optional) Set the beacon node to start automatically at boot
sudo systemctl enable nimbus_beacon_node

5. Check the status of the service

systemctl status will show if your beacon node is up and running, or has stopped for some reason.

sudo systemctl status nimbus_beacon_node.service

You can also follow the logs using the following command:

sudo journalctl -uf nimbus_beacon_node.service

This will show you the Nimbus logs at the default setting — it should include regular "slot start" messages which will show your sync progress. Press ctrl-c to stop following the logs.

To rewind logs — by one day, say — run:

sudo journalctl -u nimbus_beacon_node.service --since yesterday

Import validator keys

Before you start, familiarize yourself with the standard way of importing validators.

Make sure you use the correct data directory. Look for the --data-dir option in the .service file.

When using a service, the beacon node is running as a different user. Look for the User= option in the .service. Here we assume that the user is called nimbus.

The key import must be performed as this user in order for the key files to have the correct permission:

# Run import command as the `nimbus` user
sudo -u nimbus /usr/bin/nimbus_beacon_node deposits import --data-dir=/var/lib/nimbus/shared_mainnet_0 /path/to/keys


Make sure to use the same --data-dir option as is used in the service file! Some guides use --data-dir=/var/lib/nimbus instead.

Running multiple beacon nodes

You can run multiple beacon nodes on the same machine simply by copying the .service file and adjusting the parameters.

When running multiple beacon nodes, make sure that each service:

  • has its own .service file
  • has its own --data-dir
  • has its own --*-port settings

Further examples