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syslog-ng Premium Edition 6.0.17 - Administration Guide

Preface Chapter 1. Introduction to syslog-ng Chapter 2. The concepts of syslog-ng Chapter 3. Installing syslog-ng Chapter 4. The syslog-ng PE quick-start guide Chapter 5. The syslog-ng PE configuration file Chapter 6. Collecting log messages — sources and source drivers Chapter 7. Sending and storing log messages — destinations and destination drivers Chapter 8. Routing messages: log paths, reliability, and filters Chapter 9. Global options of syslog-ng PE Chapter 10. TLS-encrypted message transfer Chapter 11. FIPS-compliant syslog-ng Chapter 12.  Reliable Log Transfer Protocol™ Chapter 13. Reliability and minimizing the loss of log messages Chapter 14. Manipulating messages Chapter 15. Parsing and segmenting structured messages Chapter 16. Processing message content with a pattern database Chapter 17. Statistics and metrics of syslog-ng Chapter 18. Multithreading and scaling in syslog-ng PE Chapter 19. Troubleshooting syslog-ng Chapter 20. Best practices and examples

Chapter 20. Best practices and examples

This chapter discusses some special examples and recommendations.

General recommendations

This section provides general tips and recommendations on using syslog-ng. Some of the recommendations are detailed in the subsequent sections.

  • Do not base the separation of log messages into different files on the facility parameter. As several applications and processes can use the same facility, the facility does not identify the application that sent the message. By default, the facility parameter is not even included in the log message itself. In general, sorting the log messages into several different files can make finding specific log messages difficult. If you must create separate log files, use the application name.

  • Standard log messages include the local time of the sending host, without any time zone information. It is recommended to replace this timestamp with an ISODATE timestamp, because the ISODATE format includes the year and timezone as well. To convert all timestamps to the ISODATE format, include the following line in the syslog-ng configuration file:

    options {ts-format(iso) ; };
  • Resolving the IP addresses of the clients to domain names can decrease the performance of syslog-ng. For details, see the section called “Using name resolution in syslog-ng”.

Procedure 20.2. Collecting logs from chroot


To collect logs from a chroot using a syslog-ng client running on the host, complete the following steps:

Figure 20.1. Collecting logs from chroot

Collecting logs from chroot


  1. Create a /dev directory within the chroot. The applications running in the chroot send their log messages here.

  2. Create a local source in the configuration file of the syslog-ng application running outside the chroot. This source should point to the /dev/log file within the chroot (for example to the /chroot/dev/log directory).

  3. Include the source in a log statement.


    You need to set up timezone information within your chroot as well. This usually means creating a symlink to /etc/localtime.

Handling large message load

This section provides tips on optimizing the performance of syslog-ng. Optimizing the performance is important for syslog-ng hosts that handle large traffic.

  • Disable DNS resolution, or resolve hostnames locally. For details, see the section called “Using name resolution in syslog-ng”.

  • Enable flow-control for the TCP sources. For details, see the section called “Managing incoming and outgoing messages with flow-control”.

  • Do not use the usertty() destination driver. Under heavy load, the users are not be able to read the messages from the console, and it slows down syslog-ng.

  • Do not use regular expressions in our filters. Evaluating general regular expressions puts a high load on the CPU. Use simple filter functions and logical operators instead. For details, see the section called “Regular expressions”.

  • Caution:

    When receiving messages using the UDP protocol, increase the size of the UDP receive buffer on the receiver host (that is, the syslog-ng PE server or relay receiving the messages). Note that on certain platforms, for example, on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, even low message load (~200 messages per second) can result in message loss, unless the so-rcvbuf() option of the source is increased. In such cases, you will need to increase the net.core.rmem_max parameter of the host (for example, to 1024000), but do not modify net.core.rmem_default parameter.

    As a general rule, increase the so-rcvbuf() so that the buffer size in kilobytes is higher than the rate of incoming messages per second. For example, to receive 2000 messages per second, set the so-rcvbuf() at least to 2 097 152 bytes.

  • Increase the value of the flush-lines() parameter. Increasing flush-lines() from 0 to 100 can increase the performance of syslog-ng PE by 100%.

Using name resolution in syslog-ng

The syslog-ng application can resolve the hostnames of the clients and include them in the log messages. However, the performance of syslog-ng is severely degraded if the domain name server is unaccessible or slow. Therefore, it is not recommended to resolve hostnames in syslog-ng. If you must use name resolution from syslog-ng, consider the following:

  • Use DNS caching. Verify that the DNS cache is large enough to store all important hostnames. (By default, the syslog-ng DNS cache stores 1007 entries.)

    options { dns-cache-size(2000); };
  • If the IP addresses of the clients change only rarely, set the expiry of the DNS cache large.

    options { dns-cache-expire(87600); };
  • If possible, resolve the hostnames locally. For details, see Procedure 20.1, “Resolving hostnames locally”.


Domain name resolution is important mainly in relay and server mode.

Procedure 20.1. Resolving hostnames locally


Resolving hostnames locally enables you to display hostnames in the log files for frequently used hosts, without having to rely on a DNS server. The known IP address – hostname pairs are stored locally in a file. In the log messages, syslog-ng will replace the IP addresses of known hosts with their hostnames. To configure local name resolution, complete the following steps:


  1. Add the hostnames and the respective IP addresses to the file used for local name resolution. On Linux and UNIX systems, this is the /etc/hosts file. Consult the documentation of your operating system for details.

  2. Instruct syslog-ng to resolve hostnames locally. Set the use-dns() option of syslog-ng to persist_only.

  3. Set the dns-cache-hosts() option to point to the file storing the hostnames.

    options {
            dns-cache-hosts(/etc/hosts); };

Configuring log rotation

The syslog-ng PE application does not rotate logs by itself. To use syslog-ng PE for log rotation, consider the following approaches:

Use logrotate together with syslog-ng PE

  • Ideal for workstations or when processing fewer logs.

  • It is included in most distributions by default.

  • Less scripting is required, only logrotate has to be configured correctly.

  • Requires frequent restart (syslog-ng PE must be reloaded/restarted when the files are rotated). After rotating the log files, reload syslog-ng PE using the syslog-ng-ctl reload command, or use another method to send a SIGHUP to syslog-ng PE.

  • The statistics collected by syslog-ng PE, and the correlation information gathered with Pattern Database is lost with each restart.

Separate incoming logs based on time, host or other information: 

  • Ideal for central log servers, where regular restart of syslog-ng PE is unfavorable.

  • Requires shell scripts or cron jobs to remove old logs.

  • It can be done by using macros in the destination name (in the filename, directory name, or the database table name).

Example 20.1. File destination for log rotation

This sample file destination configuration stores incoming logs in files that are named based on the current year, month and day, and places these files in directories that are named based on the hostname:

destination d_sorted { file("/var/log/remote/${HOST}/${YEAR}_${MONTH}_${DAY}.log" create-dirs(yes)); };

Example 20.2. Logstore destination for log rotation

This sample logstore destination configuration stores incoming logs in logstores that are named based on the current year, month and day, and places these logstores in directories that are named based on the hostname:

destination d_logstore { logstore("/var/log/remote/${HOST}/${YEAR}_${MONTH}_${DAY}.lgs" compress(9) create-dirs(yes)); };

Example 20.3. Command for cron for log rotation

This sample command for cron removes files older than two weeks from the /var/log/remote directory:

find /var/log/remote/ -daystart -mtime +14 -type f -exec rm {} \;

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