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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

General recommendations

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

  • Do not base the separation of log messages in 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 Using name resolution in syslog-ng.

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 Using name resolution in syslog-ng.

  • Enable flow-control for the TCP sources. For details, see 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 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 this 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 inaccessible 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 Resolving hostnames locally.


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

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

  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); };
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