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"Why do init scripts require lock files?
When a service is started through an init script, a file is touched in the /var/lock/subsys/ directory with the same name as the init script. When the service is stopped, this file is removed. The contents of this file are unimportant for the scope of this article, as long as the filename is the same as the init script.
This file represents that a service's subsystem is locked, which means the service should be running. Since a service may consist of multiple executables with different names, finding the process ID (PID) of a single executable may not be sufficient to determine the status of the entire service itself. For this reason, the command:
service <initscript> status
checks both the PID of the executable and the file in the /var/lock/subsys/ directory. If the PID is not found but the subsystem is locked, you will receive a message similar to this:
<service> dead but subsys locked
Managing a service's subsystem has two purposes. First, if the service does not lock the subsystem, it can still be started and stopped through the service interface. However, when switching runlevels, the rc scripts check for the existence of the file in /var/lock/subsys/. If this file is not found, the service will not correctly start or stop between runlevels, even if there are start and kill symbolic links in the /etc/rc#.d/ directories.
Second, the /var/lock/subsys/ directory is checked during reboots and shutdowns. The order of a shutdown is as follows:
Run service <initscript> stop for all known services
Run kill -SIGTERM to terminate all processes
Pause for five seconds
Run kill -SIGKILL to kill all remaining processes
This method of shutting down is ordered such that processes are killed as gracefully as possible. During a shutdown, the script /etc/rc.d/init.d/killall checks the /var/lock/subsys/ directory to see if any subsystems are still locked. If a service's subsystem is locked after all other services have been stopped (i.e. step 1 above has completed), the killall script uses the subsystem filename to call service <initscript> stop. This attempts to stop the service gracefully before handing off to steps 2 through 4, which forcefully terminate the process itself."