Stop a component when it is idle

Components usually are not doing work all the time. Most components are written to be asynchronous, meaning they are often waiting for the next FIDL message to arrive. Nonetheless, these components occupy memory. This is a guide for adapting your component to stop voluntarily and free up resources when it is idle.


Here's what to expect:

  • You'll make some changes to your component's code such that it can decide when to stop. Your component will persist its state and handles right before stopping. Persisting this data is called escrowing.

  • Clients to your component will not be aware that your component stopped. Stopping your component this way does not break their FIDL connections to your component.

  • Fuchsia provides libraries that let you monitor when FIDL connections and the outgoing directory connection become idle, and turn those connections back to handles when that happens.

  • Component Framework provides APIs for your component to store handles and data and retrieve them upon the next execution, typically after a handle is readable or upon a new capability request. We'll go into detail how they work in the next sections.

  • Fuchsia snapshots and Cobalt dashboards will contain useful lifecycle metrics.

What components are good candidates?

We recommend looking into components with these characteristics:

  • Spiky traffic. The component can start and process those traffic, then go back to stopped when it's done. Lots of components in the boot and update path are only needed during those times, but otherwise are sitting around wasting RAM e.g. core/system-update/system-updater.

  • Isn't too stateful. You can persist state before the component stops. In the limit, we could write code to persist all important state. In practice, we make trade-offs between the memory savings and the complexity of persisting the necessary state.

  • High memory usage. Look at memory usage of your component using ffx profile memory. For example, it shows the on a typical system using 732 KiB of private memory. Private memory is memory only referenced by that component so we're guaranteed to free at least that amount of memory when stopping that component. See Measuring memory usage.

    Process name:
    Process koid:         2222
    Private:              732 KiB
    PSS:                  1.26 MiB (Proportional Set Size)
    Total:                3.07 MiB (Private + Shared unscaled) is an example component that doesn't hold state across HTTP loader connections and is only used for metrics and crashes uploading. Hence we have adapted it to stop when idle once configured as such.

Known limitations

  • Inspect: if your component publishes diagnostics information via inspect, those information will be discarded when your component stops. tracks preserving inspect data even after a component has stopped.

  • Hanging-gets: if your component is the server or client of a hanging-get FIDL method, it will be challenging to preserve that connection because the FIDL bindings don't have a way to save and restore information about in-progress calls. You may convert that FIDL method to an event and and a one-way ack.

  • Directories: if you component serves directory protocols, it will be challenging to preserve that connection because directories are usually served by VFS libraries. The VFS libraries currently don't expose a way to get back the underlying channels and associated state (such as the seek pointer).

All these can be supported with enough justification. You may get in touch with the Component Framework team with your use case.

Detecting idleness

The first step to stopping an idle component is to enhance that component's code to know when it has become idle, which means:

  • FIDL connections are idle: A component usually declares a number of FIDL protocol capabilities and clients will connect to those protocols when they need it. These connections shouldn't have pending messages that require the component's attention.

  • Outgoing directory is idle: A component serves an outgoing directory that publishes its outgoing capabilities. There shouldn't be pending messages that represent capability requests to this component and there shouldn't be extra connections into the outgoing directory besides the one established by component_manager.

  • Other background business logic: For example, if a component makes a network request in the background in response to a FIDL method, we may not consider that component to be idle unless that network request has finished. It's likely unsafe to for that component to stop in the middle of the request.

We have Rust libraries for detecting idleness in each case. tracks the same feature for C++ components.

Detect idle FIDL connections

You can use detect_stall::until_stalled to transform a Rust FIDL request stream into one that unbinds the FIDL endpoint automatically if the connection is idle over a specified timeout. You need to add your component to the visibility list at src/lib/detect-stall/ Refer to the API docs and tests for details. Here's how uses it:

async fn loader_server(
    stream: net_http::LoaderRequestStream,
    idle_timeout: fasync::Duration,
) -> Result<(), anyhow::Error> {
    // Transforms `stream` into another stream yielding the same messages,
    // but may complete prematurely when idle.
    let (stream, unbind_if_stalled) = detect_stall::until_stalled(stream, idle_timeout);

    // Handle the `stream` as per normal.
    stream.for_each_concurrent(None, |message| {
        // Match on `message`...

    // The `unbind_if_stalled` future will resolve if the stream was idle
    // for `idle_timeout` or if the stream finished. If the stream was idle,
    // it will resolve with the unbound server endpoint.
    // If the connection did not close or receive new messages within the
    // timeout, send it over to component manager to wait for it on our behalf.
    if let Ok(Some(server_end)) = unbind_if_stalled.await {
        // Escrow the `server_end`...

Detect idle outgoing directory

You can use the fuchsia_component::server::ServiceFs::until_stalled method to transform a ServiceFs into one that unbinds the outgoing directory server endpoint automatically if there is no work in the filesystem. Refer to the API docs and tests for details. Here's how uses it:

pub async fn main() -> Result<(), anyhow::Error> {
    // Initialize a `ServiceFs` and add services as per normal.
    let mut fs = ServiceFs::new();
    let _: &mut ServiceFsDir<'_, _> = fs

    // Chain `.until_stalled()` before calling `.for_each_concurrent()`.
    // This wraps each item in the `ServiceFs` stream into an enum of either
    // a capability request, or an `Item::Stalled` message containing the
    // outgoing directory server endpoint if the filesystem became idle.
        .for_each_concurrent(None, |item| async {
            match item {
                Item::Request(services, _active_guard) => {
                    let HttpServices::Loader(stream) = services;
                    loader_server(stream, idle_timeout).await;
                Item::Stalled(outgoing_directory) => {
                    // Escrow the `outgoing_directory`...

Wait for other background business logic

The ServiceFs won't produce more capability requests once it has yielded the Item::Stalled message. That could be problematic if you have some background work that prevent your component from stopping, but the ServiceFs has become idle in the meantime and has prematurely unbound the outgoing directory endpoint. To handle those situations, you can prevent the ServiceFs from becoming idle. The Item::Request yielded by the ServiceFs contains an ActiveGuard. As long as an active guard is in scope, the ServiceFs will not become idle and will keep yielding capability requests as they come in.

Similarly, you may create an ExecutionScope to spawn all background work related to the processing of a FIDL connection, and call ExecutionScope::wait() to wait for them to complete. For example, the loader_server function in will not return until that background work is done, and this will in turn keep the active_guard in the Item::Request in scope, preventing the ServiceFs from stopping.

Escrow handles and state to the framework

Once a connection is idle and the library has given you an unbound server endpoint, the next step is to escrow those handles, in other words, send them to the component framework for safekeeping.

Stateless protocols

Some FIDL connections don't carry state. Every request functions identically whether they are sent on the same connection or over separate connections. You may follow these steps for those connections:

  • Declare the capability in the component manifest if not already. You may need to declare the capability if this protocol connection is derived from another connection, and is otherwise not normally served from the outgoing directory.

  • Add delivery: "on_readable" when declaring the capability. You need to add your component to the delivery_type visibility list at tools/cmc/build/restricted_features/ The framework will then monitor the readable signal on the server endpoint of new connection requests, and connect the server endpoint to the provider component when there is a message pending. Example:

    capabilities: [
            protocol: "",
            delivery: "on_readable",
  • Add a use declaration from self for the capability such that the program may connect to it from its incoming namespace. You may install the capability in the /escrow directory to distinguish it from other capabilities used by your component. Example:

        protocol: "",
        from: "self",
        path: "/escrow/",
  • Connect to the capability from the incoming namespace, passing the unbound server endpoint from detect_stalled::until_stalled.

    if let Ok(Some(server_end)) = unbind_if_stalled.await {
        // This will open `/escrow/` and pass the server
        // endpoint obtained from the idle FIDL connection.

Altogether, this means the component framework will monitor the idle connection to be readable again, and then send that capability back to your component when that happens. If your component has stopped, this will start your component.

Outgoing directory

We have to use a different API to escrow the main outgoing directory connection (i.e. the one returned by ServiceFs in Item::Stalled) because that server endpoint is the entry point from which all other connections are made to a component. For ELF components, you can send the outgoing directory to the framework via the fuchsia.process.lifecycle/Lifecycle.OnEscrow FIDL event:

  • Add lifecycle: { stop_event: "notify" } to the your component .cml:

    program: {
        runner: "elf",
        binary: "bin/http_client",
        lifecycle: { stop_event: "notify" },
  • Take the lifecycle numbered handle, turn it into a FIDL request stream, and send the event using send_on_escrow:

    let lifecycle =
        fuchsia_runtime::take_startup_handle(HandleInfo::new(HandleType::Lifecycle, 0)).unwrap();
    let lifecycle: zx::Channel = lifecycle.into();
    let lifecycle: ServerEnd<flifecycle::LifecycleMarker> = lifecycle.into();
    let (mut lifecycle_request_stream, lifecycle_control_handle) =
    // Later, when `ServiceFs` has stalled and we have an `outgoing_dir`.
    let outgoing_dir = Some(outgoing_dir);
        .send_on_escrow(flifecycle::LifecycleOnEscrowRequest { outgoing_dir, ..Default::default() })

    Once your component has sent the OnEscrow event, it will not be able to monitor more capability requests. Hence it should promptly exit after that. Upon the next execution, your component will get back in its startup info the same outgoing_dir handle that it sent away in its previous run.

    Refer to http-client for how all these are put together.

Stateful protocols, and other important state

The fuchsia.process.lifecycle/Lifecycle.OnEscrow event takes another argument, an escrowed_dictionary client_end:fuchsia.component.sandbox.Dictionary which is a reference to a Dictionary object. Dictionaries are key-value maps that may hold data or capabilities.

  • You may create a Dictionary by using fuchsia.component.sandbox.Factory from framework, and calling CreateDictionary on the Factory protocol:

    use: [
            protocol: "fuchsia.component.sandbox.Factory",
            from: "framework",
    let factory =
    let dictionary = factory.create_dictionary().await?;
  • You may add some data (e.g. a vector of bytes) to the Dictionary by calling Insert on the Dictionary FIDL connection. Refer to the fuchsia.component.sandbox FIDL library documentation for other methods:

    let bytes = vec![...];
    let data = fidl_fuchsia_component_sandbox::DataCapability::Bytes(bytes);
    let dictionary = dictionary.into_proxy().unwrap();
  • Before exiting, send the Dictionary client endpoint in send_on_escrow:

        .send_on_escrow(flifecycle::LifecycleOnEscrowRequest {
            outgoing_dir: Some(outgoing_dir),
            escrowed_dictionary: Some(dictionary.into_channel().unwrap().into_zx_channel().into()),
  • On next start, you may obtain this dictionary from the startup handles:

    if let Some(dictionary) = fuchsia_runtime::take_startup_handle(
        HandleInfo::new(HandleType::EscrowedDictionary, 0)
    ) {
        let dictionary = dictionary.into_proxy()?;
        let capability = dictionary.get("my_data").await??;
        match capability {
            ) => {
                // Do something with the data...
            capability @ _ => warn!("unexpected {capability:?}"),

The Dictionary object supports a variety of item data types. If your component's state is less than fuchsia.component.sandbox/MAX_DATA_LENGTH, you may consider storing the fuchsia.component.sandbox/DataCapability item, which can hold a byte vector.

I want to wait for a channel to be readable

Prior to stopping, if you would like to arrange for the component framework to wait until a channel to be readable, and then pass the channel back to your component, you may use the same delivery: "on_readable" technique. This generalizes to FIDL protocols that are not exposed by your component, such as service members. It even supports channels that do not speak FIDL protocols. As an example, suppose your component holds a Zircon exception channel, and needs to tell the framework to wait for that channel to be readable and then start your component, you may declare the following .cml:

capabilities: [
        protocol: "exception_channel",
        delivery: "on_readable",
        path: "/escrow/exception_channel",
use: [
        protocol: "exception_channel",
        from: "self",
        path: "/escrow/exception_channel",

Note that the exception_channel capability is not exposed. This capability is used by the component itself. The component may open /escrow/exception_channel from its incoming namespace with the channel to be waited on. When that channel is readable, the framework will open /escrow/exception_channel in the outgoing directory, starting the component if needed. In summary, you may declare capabilities and use them from self to escrow a handle to component_manager.

Get in touch with the Component Framework team if you need other kinds of triggers, such as waiting for custom signals or waiting for a timer.


We recommend enhancing existing integration tests to also test that your component can stop itself and start again without breaking FIDL connections. If you already have an integration test that starts up your component and send FIDL requests to it, you may use the component event matchers to verify that your component stops when there are no messages. Refer to the http-client tests for an example of how that's done.

Landing and metrics

If there are specific products you would like to optimize this component for, you may add structured configuration to your component that controls if/how long the idle timeout is.

The component framework records how long your component started and stopped in between executions and uploads those to Cobalt. You may view them in this dashboard to fine-tune the idle timeout.

When a feedback snapshot is taken, such has when a bug is encountered in the field, the timestamps of the initial and latest component executions will be available at selector <component_manager>:root/lifecycle/early and <component_manager>:root/lifecycle/late respectively. You may correlate those events with other error logs to assist in investigating if an error is caused by improper stopping of components.