Fossil as a Windows Service

If you need Fossil to start automatically on Windows, it is suggested to install Fossil as a Windows Service.


  1. You have Administrative access to a Windows 2012r2 or above server.
  2. You have PowerShell 5.1 or above installed.

Place Fossil on Server

However you obtained your copy of Fossil, it is recommended that you follow Windows conventions and place it within \Program Files\FossilSCM, the proper location for the official 64-bit binary. This way Fossil is at an expected location and you will have minimal issues with Windows interfering in your ability to run Fossil as a service. You will need Administrative rights to place fossil at the recommended location. If you will only be running Fossil as a service, you do not need to add this location to the path, though you may do so if you wish.

Installing Fossil as a Service

Luckily the hard work to use Fossil as a Windows Service has been done by the Fossil team. We simply have to install it with the proper command line options. Fossil on Windows has a command fossil winsrv to allow installing Fossil as a service on Windows. This command is only documented on the windows executable of Fossil. You must also run the command as administrator for it to be successful.

Fossil winsrv Example

The simplest form of the command is:

fossil winsrv create --repository D:/Path/to/Repo.fossil

This will create a windows service named 'Fossil-DSCM' running under the local system account and accessible on port 8080 by default. fossil winsrv can also start, stop, and delete the service. For all available options, please execute fossil help winsrv on a windows install of Fossil.

If you wish to server a directory of repositories, the fossil winsrv command requires a slightly different set of options vs. fossil server:

fossil winsrv create --repository D:/Path/to/Repos --repolist

Choice of Directory Considerations

When the Fossil server will be used at times that files may be locked during virus scanning, it is prudent to arrange that its directory used for temporary files is exempted from such scanning. Ordinarily, this will be a subdirectory named "fossil" in the temporary directory given by the Windows GetTempPath(...) API, namely the value of the first existing environment variable from %TMP%, %TEMP%, %USERPROFILE%, and %SystemRoot%; you can look for their actual values in your system by accessing the /test_env webpage. Excluding this subdirectory will avoid certain rare failures where the fossil.exe process is unable to use the directory normally during a scan.

Advanced service installation using PowerShell

As great as fossil winsrv is, it does not have one to one reflection of all of the fossil server options. When you need to use some of the more advanced options, such as --https, --skin, or --extroot, you will need to use PowerShell to configure and install the Windows service.

PowerShell provides the New-Service command, which we can use to install and configure Fossil as a service. The below should all be entered as a single line in an Administrative PowerShell console.

New-Service -Name fossil -DisplayName fossil -BinaryPathName '"C:\Program Files\FossilSCM\fossil.exe" server --port 8080 --repolist "D:/Path/to/Repos"' -StartupType Automatic

Please note the use of forward slashes in the repolist path passed to Fossil. Windows will accept either back slashes or forward slashes in path names, but Fossil has a preference for forward slashes. The use of --repolist will make this a multiple repository server. If you want to serve only a single repository, then leave off the --repolist parameter and provide the full path to the proper repository file. Other options are listed in the fossil server documentation.

The service will be installed by default to use the Local Service account. Since Fossil only needs access to local files, this is fine and causes no issues. The service will not be running once installed. You will need to start it to proceed (the -StartupType Automatic parameter to New-Service will result in the service auto-starting on boot). This can be done by entering

Start-Service -Name fossil

in the PowerShell console.

Congratulations, you now have a base http accessible Fossil server running on Windows.

Removing the Windows Service

If you want to remove the Fossil service, execute the following from an Administrative PowerShell or Command Prompt console:

sc.exe delete fossil

If you have Powershell version 6.0 or later, you can use:

Remove-Service -Name fossil

with the same effect.

Return to the top-level Fossil server article.