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syslog-ng Premium Edition 7.0.19 - Administration Guide

Preface Introduction to syslog-ng The concepts of syslog-ng Installing syslog-ng The syslog-ng PE quick-start guide The syslog-ng PE configuration file Collecting log messages — sources and source drivers
How sources work default-network-drivers: Receive and parse common syslog messages internal: Collecting internal messages file: Collecting messages from text files wildcard-file: Collecting messages from multiple text files linux-audit: Collecting messages from Linux audit logs network: Collecting messages using the RFC3164 protocol (network() driver) office365: Fetching logs from Office 365 osquery: Collect and parse osquery result logs pipe: Collecting messages from named pipes program: Receiving messages from external applications python: writing server-style Python sources python-fetcher: writing fetcher-style Python sources snmptrap: Read Net-SNMP traps syslog: Collecting messages using the IETF syslog protocol (syslog() driver) system: Collecting the system-specific log messages of a platform systemd-journal: Collecting messages from the systemd-journal system log storage systemd-syslog: Collecting systemd messages using a socket tcp, tcp6, udp, udp6: Collecting messages from remote hosts using the BSD syslog protocol udp-balancer: Receiving UDP messages at very high rate unix-stream, unix-dgram: Collecting messages from UNIX domain sockets windowsevent: Collecting Windows event logs
Sending and storing log messages — destinations and destination drivers
elasticsearch2: Sending messages directly to Elasticsearch version 2.0 or higher (DEPRECATED) elasticsearch-http: Sending messages to Elasticsearch HTTP Event Collector file: Storing messages in plain-text files hdfs: Storing messages on the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) http: Posting messages over HTTP kafka: Publishing messages to Apache Kafka logstore: Storing messages in encrypted files mongodb: Storing messages in a MongoDB database network: Sending messages to a remote log server using the RFC3164 protocol (network() driver) pipe: Sending messages to named pipes program: Sending messages to external applications python: writing custom Python destinations sentinel: Sending logs to the Microsoft Azure Sentinel cloud smtp: Generating SMTP messages (email) from logs splunk-hec: Sending messages to Splunk HTTP Event Collector sql: Storing messages in an SQL database stackdriver: Sending logs to the Google Stackdriver cloud syslog: Sending messages to a remote logserver using the IETF-syslog protocol syslog-ng(): Forward logs to another syslog-ng node tcp, tcp6, udp, udp6: Sending messages to a remote log server using the legacy BSD-syslog protocol (tcp(), udp() drivers) unix-stream, unix-dgram: Sending messages to UNIX domain sockets usertty: Sending messages to a user terminal — usertty() destination Client-side failover
Routing messages: log paths, flags, and filters Global options of syslog-ng PE TLS-encrypted message transfer Advanced Log Transfer Protocol Reliability and minimizing the loss of log messages Manipulating messages parser: Parse and segment structured messages Processing message content with a pattern database Correlating log messages Enriching log messages with external data Monitoring statistics and metrics of syslog-ng Multithreading and scaling in syslog-ng PE Troubleshooting syslog-ng Best practices and examples The syslog-ng manual pages Glossary

Adding metadata from an external file

In syslog-ng PE version 7.0 and later, you can use an external database file to add additional metadata to your log messages. For example, you can create a database (or export it from an existing tool) that contains a list of hostnames or IP addresses, and the department of your organization that the host belongs to, the role of the host (mailserver, webserver, and so on), or similar contextual information.

The database file is a simple text file in comma-separated value (CSV) format, where each line contains the following information:

  • A selector or ID that appears in the log messages, or the name of a filter that matches the messages, for example, the hostname.

  • The name of the name-value pair that syslog-ng PE adds to matching log messages.

  • The value of the name-value pairs.

For example, the following csv-file contains three lines identified with the IP address, and adds the host-role field to the log message.,host-role,webserver,host-role,firewall,host-role,mailserver
The database file

The database file must comply with the RFC4180 CSV format, with the following exceptions and limitations:

  • The values of the CSV-file cannot contain line-breaks

To add multiple name-value pairs to a message, include a separate line in the database for each name-value pair, for example:,host-role,webserver,contact-person,"John Doe",contact-email,

Technically, add-contextual-data() is a parser in syslog-ng PE so you have to define it as a parser object.

parser p_add_context_data {

You can also add data to messages that do not have a matching selector entry in the database using the default-selector() option.

If you modify the database file, you have to reload syslog-ng PE for the changes to take effect. If reloading syslog-ng PE or the database file fails for some reason, syslog-ng PE will keep using the last working database file.

Example: Adding metadata from a CSV file

The following example defines uses a CSV database to add the role of the host based on its IP address, and prefixes the added name-value pairs with .metadata. The destination includes a template that simply appends the added name-value pairs to the end of the log message.

@include "scl.conf"

source s_network {

destination d_local {
    template("$MSG Additional metadata:[${}]")};

parser p_add_context_data {

log {

Using filters as selector

To better control to which log messages you add contextual data, you can use filters as selectors. In this case, the first column of the CSV database file must contain the name of a filter. For each message, syslog-ng PE evaluates the filters in the order they appear in the database file. If a filter matches the message, syslog-ng PE adds the name-value pair related to the filter.

For example, the database file can contain the entries. (For details on the accepted CSV-format, see database().)


Note that syslog-ng PE does not evaluate other filters after the first match. For example, if you use the previous database file, and a message matches both the f_auth and f_localhost filters, syslog-ng PE adds only the name-value pair of f_auth to the message.

To add multiple name-value pairs to a message, include a separate line in the database for each name-value pair, for example:

f_localhost,contact-person,"John Doe"

You can also add data to messages that do not have a matching selector entry in the database using the default-selector() option.

You must store the filters you reference in a database in a separate file. This file is similar to a syslog-ng PE configuration file, but must contain only a version string and filters (and optionally comments). You can use the syslog-ng --syntax-only <filename> command to ensure that the file is valid. For example, the content of such a file can be:

@version: 7.0
filter f_localhost { host("") };
filter f_auth { facility(4) };
filter f_kern { facility(0) };
parser p_add_context_data_filter {

If you modify the database file, or the file that contains the filters, you have to reload syslog-ng PE for the changes to take effect. If reloading syslog-ng PE or the files fails for some reason, syslog-ng PE will keep using the last working version of the file.

Options add-contextual-data()

The add-contextual-data() has the following options.

Required options

The following options are required: selector(), database().

Type: <path-to-file>.csv

Description: Specifies the path to the CSV file, for example, /opt/syslog-ng/my-csv-database.csv. The extension of the file must be .csv, and can include Windows-style (CRLF) or UNIX-style (LF) linebreaks. You can use absolute path, or relative to the syslog-ng PE binary.

Synopsis: default-selector()

Description: Specifies the ID of the entry (line) that is corresponds to log messages that do not have a selector that matches an entry in the database. For example, if you add name-value pairs from the database based on the hostname from the log message (selector("${HOST}")), then you can include a line for unknown hosts in the database, and set default-selector() to the ID of the line for unknown hosts. In the CSV file:


In the syslog-ng PE configuration file:

Synopsis: prefix()

Description: Insert a prefix before the name part of the added name-value pairs (including the pairs added by the default-selector()) to help further processing.

Synopsis: selector()

Description: Specifies the string or macro that syslog-ng PE evaluates for each message, and if its value matches the ID of an entry in the database, syslog-ng PE adds the name-value pair of every matching database entry to the log message. Currently, you can use strings and a single macro (for example, ${HOST}) in the selector() option, templates are not supported. To use filters as selectors, see Using filters as selector.

Looking up GeoIP2 data from IP addresses

The syslog-ng PE application can lookup IP addresses from an offline GeoIP2 database, and make the retrieved data available in name-value pairs. Depending on the database used, you can access country code, longitude, and latitude information and so on.

The syslog-ng PE application works with the Country and the City version of the GeoIP2 database, both free and the commercial editions. The syslog-ng PE application works with the mmdb (GeoIP2) format of these databases. Other formats, like csv are not supported.


To access longitude and latitude information, download the City version of the GeoIP2 database.

There are two types of GeoIP2 databases available.

  • GeoLite2 City:

    • free of charge

    • less accurate

  • GeoIP2 City:

    • has to be purchased

    • more accurate

Unzip the downloaded database (for example, to the /usr/share/GeoIP2/GeoIP2City.mmdb file). This path will be used later in the configuration.

Starting with version 7.0.17, syslog-ng PE tries to automatically detect the location of the database. If that is successful, the database() option is not mandatory.

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