Saturday, November 15, 2014

Switching from syslog-ng to rsyslog - it's easier than you might think

I had looked into rsyslog years ago, when it became default in openSUSE and for some reason I do not remember anymore, I did not really like it. So I stayed at syslog-ng.
Many people actually will not care who is taking care of their syslog messages, but since I had done a few customizations to my syslog-ng configuration, I needed to adapt those to rsyslog.

Now with Bug 899653 - "syslog-ng does not get all messages from journald, journal and syslog-ng not playing together nicely" which made it into openSUSE 13.2, I had to reconsider my choice of syslog daemon.

Basically, my customizations to syslog-ng config are pretty small:

  • log everything from VDR in a separate file "/var/log/vdr"
  • log everything from dnsmasq-dhcp in a separate file "/var/log/dnsmasq-dhcp"
  • log stuff from machines on my network (actually usually only a VOIP telephone, but sometimes some embedded boxes will send messages via syslog to my server) in "/var/log/netlog"
So I installed rsyslog -- which due to package conflicts removes syslog-ng -- and started configuring it to do the same as my old syslog-ng config had done. Important note: After changing the syslog service on your box, reboot it before doing anyting else. Otherwise you might be chasing strange problems and just rebooting is faster.

Now to the config: I did not really like the default time format of rsyslog:
2014-11-10T13:30:15.425354+01:00 susi rsyslogd: ...
Yes, I know that this is a "good" format. Easy to parse, unambiguosly, clear. But It is usually me reading the Logs and I still hate it, because I do not need microsecond precision, I do know in which timezone I'm in and it uses half of a standard terminal width if I don't scroll to the right.
So the first thing I changed was to create /etc/rsyslog.d/myformat.conf with the following content:
$template myFormat,"%timegenerated:1:4:date-rfc3339%%timegenerated:6:7:date-rfc3339%%timegenerated:9:10:date-rfc3339%-%timegenerated:12:21:date-rfc3339% %syslogtag%%msg%\n"
$ActionFileDefaultTemplate myFormat
This changes the log format to:
20141110-13:54:23.0 rsyslogd: ...
Which means the time is shorter, still can be parsed and has sub-second-precision, the hostname is gone (which might be bad for the netlog file, but I don't care) and it's 12 characters shorter.
It might be totally possible to do this in an easier fashion, I'm not a rsyslog wizard at all (yet) ;)

For /var/log/vdr and /var/log/dnsmasq-dhcp, I created the config file /etc/rsyslog.d/myprogs.conf, containing:
if $programname == 'dnsmasq-dhcp' then {
if $programname == 'vdr' then {
That's it! It's really straightforward, I really can't understand why I hated rsyslog years ago :)

The last thing missing was the netlog file, handled by /etc/rsyslog.d/mynet.conf:
$ModLoad # provides UDP syslog reception
$UDPServerRun 514 # start syslog server, port 514
if $fromhost-ip startswith '192.168.' then {
Again, pretty straightforward.
And that's it! Maybe I'll add an extra logformat for netlog to specify the hostname in there, but that would just be the icing on the cake.

What I liked especially on the rsyslog implementation in openSUSE (it might be default, but I don't know that) is, that the location of the "$IncludeConfig /etc/rsyslog.d/*.conf" is placed so that you really can do useful things without touching the distributions default config. With syslog-ng, the include of the conf.d directory was too late (for me), so you could not "split off" messages from the default definitions, e.g. the VDR messages would appear in /var/log/messages and /var/log/vdr. In order to change this, you had to change the syslog-ng.conf and this would need to be checked after a package update, and new distro-configs would need to be re-merged into my changed configuration.
Now it is totally possible that after an update of the distribution, I will need to fix my rsyslog configs because of changes in syntax or such, but at least it is possible that it might just work without that.

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