With systemd it's "systemd.unit=emergency.service". Somewhat more verbose, but I just set my alternate boot command line to it and I'm done.
>> systemd developers suggests that I can't get an environment
>> where services haven't been started in general,
>> but I can interactively start them
Who suggests that, and where? It's patently false. In an emergency.service environment you can "systemctl start foo.service" just like you normally do.
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