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syslog-ng Premium Edition 7.0.24 - Administration Guide

Preface Introduction to syslog-ng The concepts of syslog-ng Installing syslog-ng PE 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 google-pubsub: collecting messages from the Google Pub/Sub messaging service wildcard-file: Collecting messages from multiple text files linux-audit: Collecting messages from Linux audit logs mssql, oracle, sql: collecting messages from an SQL database 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 google_pubsub: Sending logs to the Google Cloud Pub/Sub messaging service 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 snmp: Sending SNMP traps 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

Introduction to syslog-ng

This chapter introduces the syslog-ng Premium Edition application in a non-technical manner, discussing how and why is it useful, and the benefits it offers to an existing IT infrastructure.

What syslog-ng is

The syslog-ng Premium Edition (syslog-ng PE) application is a flexible and highly scalable system logging application that is ideal for creating centralized and trusted logging solutions. Among others, syslog-ng PE allows you the following.

Secure and reliable log transfer

The syslog-ng PE application enables you to send the log messages of your hosts to remote servers using the latest protocol standards. You can collect and store your log data centrally on dedicated log servers. Transfer log messages using the ALTP protocol ensures that no messages are lost.

The disk-buffer option for messages

To minimize the risk of losing important log messages, the syslog-ng PE application can store messages on the local hard disk if the central log server or the network connection becomes unavailable. The syslog-ng application automatically sends the stored messages to the server when the connection is reestablished, in the same order the messages were received. The disk-buffer option is persistent – no messages are lost even if syslog-ng is restarted.

Secure logging using TLS

Log messages may contain sensitive information that should not be accessed by third parties. Therefore, syslog-ng PE supports the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol to encrypt the communication. TLS also allows you to authenticate your clients and the logserver using X.509 certificates.

Flexible data extraction and processing

Most log messages are inherently unstructured, which makes them difficult to process. To overcome this problem, syslog-ng PE comes with a set of built-in parsers, which you can combine to build very complex things.

Filter and classify

The syslog-ng PE application can sort the incoming log messages based on their content and various parameters like the source host, application, and priority. You can create directories, files, and database tables dynamically using macros. Complex filtering using regular expressions and boolean operators offers almost unlimited flexibility to forward only the important log messages to the selected destinations.

Parse and rewrite

The syslog-ng PE application can segment log messages to named fields or columns, and also modify the values of these fields. You can process JSON messages, key-value pairs, and more.

To get the most information out of your log data, syslog-ng PE allows you to correlate log messages and aggregate the extracted information into a single message. You can also use external information to enrich your log data.

Big data clusters

The log data that your organization has to process, store, and review increases daily, so many organizations use big data solutions for their logs. To accomodate this huge amount of data, syslog-ng PE natively supports storing log messages in HDFS files and Elasticsearch clusters.

Message queue support

Large organizations increasingly rely on queuing infrastructure to transfer their data. For that purpose, syslog-ng PE supports Apache Kafka.

SQL, NoSQL, and monitoring

Storing your log messages in a database allows you to easily search and query the messages and interoperate with log analyzing applications. The syslog-ng application supports the following databases: MongoDB, MSSQL, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQLite.

Wide protocol and platform support
syslog protocol standards

syslog-ng not only supports legacy BSD syslog (RFC3164) and the enhanced RFC5424 protocols, but also JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and journald message formats.

Heterogeneous environments

The syslog-ng PE application is the ideal choice to collect logs in massively heterogeneous environments using several different operating systems and hardware platforms, including Linux, Unix, BSD, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX.

IPv4 and IPv6 support

The syslog-ng application can operate in both IPv4 and IPv6 network environments, and can receive and send messages to both types of networks.

Encrypted and timestamped log storage

The syslog-ng PE application can store log messages securely in encrypted, compressed, and timestamped binary files. Timestamps can be requested from an external Timestamping Authority (TSA).

Excellent performance

Depending on the exact syslog-ng PE configuration, environment, and other parameters, syslog-ng PE is capable of processing:

  • Over 635,000 messages per second (over 235 MB of data per second) when receiving messages from multiple connections and storing them in text files.

  • Over 615,000 messages per second (over 230 MB of data per second) when receiving messages from multiple secure (TLS-encrypted) connections and storing them in text files.

What syslog-ng is not

The syslog-ng application is not log analysis software. It can filter log messages and select only the ones matching certain criteria. It can even convert the messages and restructure them to a predefined format, or parse the messages and segment them into different fields. But syslog-ng cannot interpret and analyze the meaning behind the messages, or recognize patterns in the occurrence of different messages.

Why is syslog-ng needed?

Log messages contain information about the events happening on the hosts. Monitoring system events is essential for security and system health monitoring reasons.

The original syslog protocol separates messages based on the priority of the message and the facility sending the message. These two parameters alone are often inadequate to consistently classify messages, as many applications might use the same facility — and the facility itself is not even included in the log message. To make things worse, many log messages contain unimportant information. The syslog-ng application helps you to select only the really interesting messages, and forward them to a central server.

Company policies or other regulations often require log messages to be archived. Storing the important messages in a central location greatly simplifies this process.

For details on how can you use syslog-ng PE to comply with various regulations, see the Regulatory compliance and system logging whitepaper.

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