Ubuntu Upstart job with java jar

Posted on Saturday, February 1, 2014

This article covers setting up an Upstart Job on an Ubuntu 12.04 server. This upstart job will start/stop a program packaged in a jar file.

For lots of details on upstart you can go to http://upstart.ubuntu.com/cookbook/ [1]

Creating a jar file with a manifest

To make life easier I am going to install ant to use to compile the code and create the jar file.

> sudo apt-get install ant

Create the code

> cd
> mkdir jar-test
> cd jar-test
> mkdir -p src/com/whiteboardcoder/hello
> mkdir target
> vi src/com/whiteboardcoder/hello/hw.java

Put this in the java file

package com.whiteboardcoder.hello;

import java.util.Date;
import java.util.TimeZone;
import java.util.Locale;
import java.text.DateFormat;
import java.text.SimpleDateFormat;

public class hw {

   public static String getISO8601Now(){
      DateFormat dateFormat = new SimpleDateFormat(
                     "yyyy-MM-dd'T'HH:mm:ss'Z'", Locale.US);
      return dateFormat.format(new Date());

   public static void main(String...args){
      TimeZone tz = TimeZone.getTimeZone("UTC");
               "Hello World The UTC time in ISO 8601 format is "             
               + hw.getISO8601Now());
      catch(Exception e){

Create build.xml file for the ant build

> vi build.xml

And place the following in it

<project default="main" basedir=".">

   <target name="main">
     <echo>Compiling code and creating Jar file</echo>
     <javac srcdir="src"
     <jar basedir="target" destfile="HW.jar">
            <attribute name="Main-Class" value="com.whiteboardcoder.hello.hw" />

Run the ant build and create the executable jar file

> ant

Now run the executable jar

> java -jar HW.jar

This will output the UTC time in ISO 8601 format every 2 seconds

I just wanted to create a simple program that would keep putting output out so that we could see that it started/stopped in the upstart job

Create the upstart job

I found a few sites giving suggestions on how to make an upstart job to run a java jar file.  http://stackoverflow.com/questions/12102270/run-java-jar-file-on-a-server-as-background-process [2] has an upstart job that I used (adjusted it a little) http://askubuntu.com/questions/162768/starting-java-processes-with-upstart [3] has a more complex upstart example.

Another site I used for some information on upstart stanzas is at http://upstart.ubuntu.com/wiki/Stanzas [4]

Now to the nitty gritty create the /etc/init/helloworld.conf

> sudo vi /etc/init/helloworld.conf

This is the contents of my upstart job

description "Hello World"
author "Patman"

start on runlevel [2345]
stop on runlevel [!2345]

#Respawn the process if it crashes
#If it respawns more than 10 times in 5 seconds stop
respawn limit 10 5

expect fork

    cd /home/patman/jar-test
    java -jar HW.jar > /var/log/HW-test.log 2>&1
end script

Save it and start it

> sudo start helloworld

Then look at the output being saved at /var/log/HW-test.log

> sudo start helloworld

Now tail the output file

> sudo tail -f /var/log/HW-test.log

To stop the program run the following

> sudo stop helloworld

If you tail the log you will see that it has stopped J

[1]        Upstart Intro, Cookbook and Best Practises
                Accessed 01/2014
[2]        Run java jar file on a server as background process
                Accessed 01/2014
[3]        Starting java processes with Upstart
                Accessed 01/2014
[4]        Upstart Stanza
                Accessed 01/2014


  1. Thanks! It was really helpful and straight forward.

  2. See this blog was posted a while ago - but it still helped me today! Thanks

    1. Glad you found it useful. I try to put the date on all my posts and all my videos so people can see if it's still worth reading. a 10 year old article on curl or sed is probably still good but most other things change too quickly to get much out of them after a few years :)

    2. yah… while our server runs Ubuntu 14.04 I need to translate systemd-config to upstart-config for all services…

  3. I am glad to see this brilliant post. all the details are very helpful and good for us, keep up to good work.I found some useful information in your blog, it was awesome to read, thanks for sharing this great content to my vision, keep sharing.

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