Recently I ran into an issue that had me a little confused and troubleshooting for awhile, so I wanted to document it here. If you create a systemd unit that should be run before another unit, you could be surprised to find that in a certain circumstance you could have an ordering cycle:
Mar 06 15:51:01 myhostname systemd: cloud-init.service: Found ordering cycle on cloud-init-local.service/start
To cause this issue I created a systemd service unit that I wanted to run before another unit,
cloud-init-local.service. Here was my new unit:
ExecStart=/bin/bash -c "echo begin && sleep 10 && echo end"
This is a very simplified version, but it illustrates the issue quite well. I created this unit to be
cloud-init-local.service unit, and also to have it start
Before that unit as well. At first glance, this seems like a very single direction relationship. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw that the latter unit failed to start with the error message Found ordering cycle.
How could there be an ordering cycle in this case? The answer is in
man systemd.service). By leaving this option out of the definition of
svc1.service, that defaults to
DefaultDependencies=yes. But the service that we have the
RequiredBy directive on does not have
$ systemctl show -p DefaultDependencies cloud-init-local.service
So the ordering cycle is this: svc1 -> default dependencies -> cloud-init-local -> svc1 -> …and so on.
The fix is to add
DefaultDependencies=no to the definition of
svc1.service, which should resolve the ordering cycle.
Hopefully this blog post has provided a quick summary on how a seemingly single direction dependency can actually be an ordering cycle due to