A steady flow of features, and releases, is key to keeping any project alive. Recently I ticked off another item in the Finit TODO list …

Finit v1.12 now comes with a built-in inetd! You no longer need an external inetd daemon to launch services on demand.

The good news doesn’t stop there, this little inetd actually supports a poor man’s tcpwrappers!

inetd ssh/tcp          nowait [2345] /sbin/dropbear -i -R -F
inetd ssh@eth0:222/tcp nowait [2345] /sbin/dropbear -i -R -F

With these two lines in your /etc/finit.conf you tell finit to launch the Dropbear SSH server on demand on port 22 (default ssh/tcp port in /etc/services) on all interfaces except on eth0, which in your case is the Internet (WAN) interface, here you want SSH to run on port 222. Actually, you don’t want port 22 open at all on eth0 … so finit takes care of this for you! Seriously, it just works, no need for messing about with that nasty old iptables anymore!

The original UNIX inetd super server supported many protocols internally, some of which may seem a bit odd today, and some have been superseded by more modern protocols.

Finit currently only supports one internal/built-in standard service, time. It is built as a plugin to serve as an example of how you can extend Finit yourself. The time service can be called either as UDP or TCP. To prevent security issues, the time protocol is disabled by default. To enable it you need two things:

  1. The time.so plugin (built by default)
  2. An inetd time ... line in /etc/finit.conf

Assuming you’ve installed the default set of plugins, the following two lines can be added:

inetd time/udp   wait [2345] internal
inetd time/tcp nowait [2345] internal

This can be very useful for testing the inetd capabilities, your network connection, or simply to get the time to a client where NTP for some reason does not work, or is blocked. For instance, you could have a GPS setup on your server and distribute time to clients with the time protocol.

To use it you need an rdate client. Users of rdate in BusyBox may need to be reminded that it only supports TCP.

$ rdate -pu
Sat Mar  7 08:48:58 CET 2015

For more info on Finit and its features, see the README.

Enjoy! ツ


  • Add support for built-in inetd super server – launch services on demand. Supports filtering per interface and custom Inet ports.
  • Upgrade to libuEv v1.1.0 to better handle error conditions.
  • Allow mixed case config directives in finit.conf
  • Add support for RFC 868 (rdate) time plugin, start as inetd service.
  • Load plugins before parsing finit.conf, this makes it possible to extend finit even with configuration commands. E.g., the time.so plugin must be loaded for the inetd time/tcp internal service to be accepted when parsing finit.conf.
  • Slight change in TTY fallback behavior, if no TTY is listed in the system finit.conf first inspect the console setting and only if that too is unset fall back to /bin/sh
  • When falling back to the console TTY or /bin/sh, finit now marks this fallback as console. Should improve usability in some use cases.


  • Revert “Use vfork() instead of fork() before exec()” from v1.11. It turned out to not work so well after all. For instance, launching TTYs in a background process completely blocked inetd services from even starting up listening sockets … proper fork seems to work fine though. This is the casue for yanking the 1.11 release.
  • Trap segfaults caused by external plugins/callbacks in a sub-process. This prevents a single programming mistake in by a 3rd party developer from taking down the entire system.
  • Fix Coverity CID 56281: dlopen() resource leak by storing the pointer. For the time being we do not support unloading plugins.
  • Set hostname early, so bootstrap processes like syslog can use it.
  • Only restart lost daemons when recovering from a SIGSTOP/norespawn.