Creating an Apache Commons Daemon using Component with Clojure

29 Oct 2015


One way to write a long running server application that runs on the JVM with proper start/stop semantics is to the the Apache Commons Daemon. In this post we’ll see how we can do so in Clojure and also use the Component framework to structure our application.

The full source for this post is available on Github.


Component describes itself as:

A tiny Clojure framework for managing the lifecycle and dependencies
of software components which have runtime state.

This is primarily a design pattern with a few helper functions. It can be seen as a
style of dependency injection using immutable data structures.

There are two concepts to be aware of:

  • Components
A collection of functions or procedures which share some runtime state.
  • Systems
Components are composed into systems. A system is a component which knows how to
start and stop other components. It is also responsible for injecting dependencies
into the components which need them.

I won’t go into very much detail about Component in this post, to learn more the documentation is excellent.

The Application

We will be building an app with two components and one system.

The first component will store application metrics and the second component will repeatedly print “tick” to stdout and increment a tick counter in the metrics component once a second.

The system will bring them together and handle the metrics component being a dependency of the tick one.

Leiningen Project

Our project.clj looks like this:

(defproject apache-commons-daemon "0.1.0-SNAPSHOT"
  :description "Example of running a daemon"
  :license {:name "Eclipse Public License"
            :url ""}
  :dependencies [[org.clojure/clojure "1.7.0"]
                 [commons-daemon/commons-daemon "1.0.15"]
                 [com.stuartsierra/component "0.3.0"]]
  :main apache-commons-daemon.core
  :aot :all)


Next create a file called src/apache_commons_daemon/core.clj

Insert the following at the top of the file:

(ns apache-commons-daemon.core
  (:require [com.stuartsierra.component :as component])
  (:import [org.apache.commons.daemon Daemon DaemonContext])
   :implements [org.apache.commons.daemon.Daemon]))

Metrics Component

For simplicity the first component simply stores the number of times the other component has ticked, however we could easily store additional metrics.

We also provide a constructor and a function to increment the tick count.

;; Application Metrics Component
(defrecord MetricsComponent [num-ticks]
  ;; Implement the Lifecycle protocol
  (start [component]
    (println ";; Starting MetricsComponent")
    (reset! (:num-ticks component) 0)
  (stop [component]
    (println ";; Stopping MetricsComponent")
    (println (str ";; Metric num ticks: " @(:num-ticks component)))

(defn make-metrics-component
  "Constructor for a metrics component"
  (map->MetricsComponent {:num-ticks (atom 0)}))

(defn inc-num-ticks-metric [metrics-component]
  (swap! (get metrics-component :num-ticks) inc))

Tick Component

At startup the tick component creates a future which repeatedly outputs “tick” to stdout for as long as the component’s state is set to :running.

;; Tick Component
(defn do-ticks
  "Print to stdout and increment the ticks metric once a second when the component
  is running"
  [state metrics-component]
  (while (= :running @state)
    (println "tick")
    (inc-num-ticks-metric metrics-component)
    (Thread/sleep 1000)))

(defrecord TickComponent [state metrics-component]
  ;; Implement the Lifecycle protocol
  (start [component]
    (println ";; Starting TickComponent")
    (reset! (:state component) :running)
    ;; Do some work in another thread
    (future (do-ticks (:state component) metrics-component))
  (stop [component]
    (println ";; Stopping TickComponent")
    (reset! (:state component) :stopped)

(defn make-tick-component
  "Constructor for a tick component"
  (map->TickComponent {:state (atom :stopped)}))

Application System

Here we have a system which creates the two components. It also indicates that the metrics component is a dependency of the tick component, so it will ensure the metrics component is started first and provide an instance of it to the tick component.

;; Application System
(defn make-app-system []
   :metrics-component (make-metrics-component)
   :tick-component (component/using

Now we create the system and provide functions to start and stop it. The start and stop methods make it easy to develop and test in a REPL (without the need for jsvc in that environment).

(def app-system (make-app-system))

;; Separate start/stop functions for easier development in a REPL
(defn start []
  (alter-var-root #'app-system component/start))

(defn stop []
  (alter-var-root #'app-system component/stop))

Commons Daemon

Finally we provide an implementatation of the Daemon interface. This will allow us to start and stop the application with jsvc.

;; Commons Daemon implementatation
(defn -init [this ^DaemonContext context])

(defn -start [this]

(defn -stop [this]

(defn -destroy [this])

Running the Application

Build with Leiningen:

$ lein uberjar

To interact with the daemon you will need jsvc as well. On Ubuntu 14.04 it is as easy as:

$ sudo apt-get install jsvc

Start/stop like this (change your java home to what is appropriate for you):

$ sudo /usr/bin/jsvc -java-home /usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle/jre/ \
  -cp "$(pwd)/target/apache-commons-daemon-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar" \
  -outfile "$(pwd)/out.txt" \

# Wait a few seconds...

$ sudo /usr/bin/jsvc -java-home /usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle/jre/ \
  -cp "$(pwd)/target/apache-commons-daemon-0.1.0-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar" \
  -stop \

$ sudo cat out.txt

You should see output that looks something like this:

;; Starting MetricsComponent
;; Starting TickComponent
;; Stopping TickComponent
;; Stopping MetricsComponent
;; Metric num ticks: 5

Note that jsvc can be a bit finicky and you may need to make some changes depending on your environment. If you do not see anything in the file, try adding the -debug flag to the jsvc calls which will provide useful information.

Next Steps

You will likely want to do is create a script to start the application. There is much more to jsvc than we covered here, Sheldon Neilson has written an excellent article for Debian based systems which I encourage you to read.

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