What does "Failed to execute operation: Invalid argument" mean when running systemctl enable?

I've created a systemd service file (specifically for svnserve; I'm actually using the example from here https://stackoverflow.com/a/40584047/464087), and when I enable it, typing

sudo systemctl enable svnserve

I get the response

Failed to execute operation: Invalid argument


sudo systemctl status svnserve


● svnserve.service - Subversion protocol daemon
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/svnserve.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: inactive (dead)

not giving me any clue about anything being wrong. I can then start the service without any error, and it seems to be running as expected, and after starting systemctl status I still get no clue about anything being wrong:

● svnserve.service - Subversion protocol daemon
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/svnserve.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2018-01-09 22:10:14 UTC; 6s ago
  Process: 9677 ExecStart=/usr/bin/svnserve $DAEMON_ARGS (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 9678 (svnserve)
    Tasks: 1
   Memory: 964.0K
      CPU: 2ms
   CGroup: /system.slice/svnserve.service
           └─9678 /usr/bin/svnserve --daemon --pid-file /run/svnserve/svnserve.pid --root /srv/svn/repos --log-file /var/log/svnserve/svnserve.log

So what does this error message mean? And to which level of things is "invalid argument" supposed to apply? An argument to the svnserve command? Some property in the service file? A command line argument to the servicectl command itself?

FWIW this is on a Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server.

I had a similar case, in my case problem went away after removing the Alias line from the [Install] section. Thanks to Anton in another thread: https://stackoverflow.com/a/34978908/2711456 - alias' name may not be the same as service name.

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What I also found is the bug with comments (at least at systemd 219), if you have comment after any code of service file, it will failed to enable it. So bring comment to new string, or remove it. I tested and it works for me:

# runs in init 3 (multi-user mode for linux)

this one will not work:

WantedBy=multi-user.target  # runs in init 3 (multi-user mode for linux)

some discussion is here: https://github.com/rabbitmq/rabbitmq-server/issues/1422

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I experienced the exactly same thing. Deleting "Alias" works, but actually, alias can have the same name with the service file.

The reason it doesn't work is related to the directory where service file is put.

What systemd enable does is creating an alias in the directory "/etc/systemd/system" and in the target directory which wants this service. If the original service file is already located in "/etc/systemd/system", when systemd tries to enable this service, the alias can't be created.

The solution is putting the service file in directory "/lib/systemd/system/", and it will work.

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you try this, i was resolved it:

  1. cd /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants

  2. ls

  3. find name service error "Failed to execute operation: Invalid argument"

  4. rm -rf yourname.service

  5. cd /etc/systemd/system/

  6. nano yourname.service

edit your content service (maybe your content mistake (checking symboy [, ],...bla..bla)

==> save it

  1. systemctl daemon-reload

  2. systemctl enable yourname.service

good luck!!!

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After last line of your /etc/systemd/system/youunit.service file, CR symbol is required. Check it and remove /etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/youunit.service. Then try systemctl enable youunit again.

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  • I wondered it had to do with running "sudo systemctl enable svnserve" rather than "sudo systemctl enable svnserve.service" but no, that made no difference.