syslog-ng Open Source Edition 3.16 - Administration Guide

Preface Introduction to syslog-ng The concepts of syslog-ng Installing syslog-ng The syslog-ng OSE quick-start guide The syslog-ng OSE configuration file source: Read, receive, and collect log messages
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 network: Collecting messages using the RFC3164 protocol (network() driver) nodejs: Receiving JSON messages from nodejs applications mbox: Converting local e-mail messages to log messages osquery: Collect and parse osquery result logs pipe: Collecting messages from named pipes pacct: Collecting process accounting logs on Linux program: Receiving messages from external applications snmptrap: Read Net-SNMP traps sun-streams: Collecting messages on Sun Solaris 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— OBSOLETE unix-stream, unix-dgram: Collecting messages from UNIX domain sockets stdin: Collecting messages from the standard input stream
destination: Forward, send, and store log messages
amqp: Publishing messages using AMQP elasticsearch: Sending messages directly to Elasticsearch version 1.x elasticsearch2: Sending logs directly to Elasticsearch and Kibana 2.0 or higher file: Storing messages in plain-text files graphite: Sending metrics to Graphite Sending logs to Graylog hdfs: Storing messages on the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) Posting messages over HTTP http: Posting messages over HTTP without Java kafka: Publishing messages to Apache Kafka loggly: Using Loggly logmatic: Using mongodb: Storing messages in a MongoDB database network: Sending messages to a remote log server using the RFC3164 protocol (network() driver) osquery: Sending log messages to osquery's syslog table pipe: Sending messages to named pipes program: Sending messages to external applications pseudofile() redis: Storing name-value pairs in Redis riemann: Monitoring your data with Riemann smtp: Generating SMTP messages (e-mail) from logs Splunk: Sending log messages to Splunk sql: Storing messages in an SQL database stomp: Publishing messages using STOMP syslog: Sending messages to a remote logserver using the IETF-syslog protocol syslog-ng: Forwarding messages and tags 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) Telegram: Sending messages to Telegram unix-stream, unix-dgram: Sending messages to UNIX domain sockets usertty: Sending messages to a user terminal: usertty() destination Write your own custom destination in Java or Python
log: Filter and route log messages using log paths, flags, and filters Global options of syslog-ng OSE TLS-encrypted message transfer template and rewrite: Format, modify, and manipulate log messages parser: Parse and segment structured messages db-parser: Process message content with a pattern database (patterndb) Correlating log messages Enriching log messages with external data Statistics of syslog-ng Multithreading and scaling in syslog-ng OSE Troubleshooting syslog-ng Best practices and examples The syslog-ng manual pages Third-party contributions Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd) License About us

Filter functions

The following functions may be used in the filter statement, as described in Filters.

Table 13: Filter functions available in syslog-ng OSE
Name Description
facility() Filter messages based on the sending facility.
filter() Call another filter function.
host() Filter messages based on the sending host.
inlist() File-based whitelisting and blacklisting.
level() or priority() Filter messages based on their priority.
match() Use a regular expression to filter messages based on a specified header or content field.
message() Use a regular expression to filter messages based on their content.
netmask() or netmask6() Filter messages based on the IP address of the sending host.
program() Filter messages based on the sending application.
source() Select messages of the specified syslog-ng OSE source statement.
tags() Select messages having the specified tag.
Synopsis: facility(<facility-name>) or facility(<facility-code>) or facility(<facility-name>..<facility-name>)

Description: Match messages having one of the listed facility codes.

The facility() filter accepts both the name and the numerical code of the facility or the importance level. Facility codes 0-23 are predefined and can be referenced by their usual name. Facility codes above 24 are not defined.

You can use the facility filter the following ways:

  • Use a single facility name, for example, facility(user)

  • Use a single facility code, for example, facility(1)

  • Use a facility range (works only with facility names), for example, facility(local0..local5)

The syslog-ng application recognizes the following facilities: (Note that some of these facilities are available only on specific platforms.)

Table 14: syslog Message Facilities recognized by the facility() filter
Numerical Code Facility name Facility
0 kern kernel messages
1 user user-level messages
2 mail mail system
3 daemon system daemons
4 auth security/authorization messages
5 syslog messages generated internally by syslogd
6 lpr line printer subsystem
7 news network news subsystem
8 uucp UUCP subsystem
9 cron clock daemon
10 authpriv security/authorization messages
11 ftp FTP daemon
12 ntp NTP subsystem
13 security log audit
14 console log alert
15 solaris-cron clock daemon
16-23 local0..local7 locally used facilities (local0-local7)
Synopsis: filter(filtername)

Description: Call another filter rule and evaluate its value. For example:

filter demo_filter { host("example") and match("deny" value("MESSAGE")) };
filter inverted_demo_filter { NOT filter(demo_filter) }
Synopsis: host(regexp)

Description: Match messages by using a regular expression against the hostname field of log messages. Note that you can filter only on the actual content of the HOST field of the message (or what it was rewritten to). That is, syslog-ng OSE will compare the filter expression to the content of the ${HOST} macro. This means that for the IP address of a host will not match, even if the IP address and the hostname field refers to the same host. To filter on IP addresses, use the netmask() filter.

filter demo_filter { host("example") };
Synopsis: in-list("</path/to/file.list>", value("<field-to-filter>"))

Description: Matches the value of the specified field to a list stored in a file, allowing you to do simple, file-based black- and whitelisting. The file must be a plain-text file, containing one entry per line. The syslog-ng OSE application loads the entire file, and compares the value of the specified field (for example, ${PROGRAM}) to entries in the file. When you use the in-list filter, note the following points:

  • Comparing the values is case-sensitive.

  • Only exact matches are supported, partial and substring matches are not.

  • If you modify the list file, reload the configuration of syslog-ng OSE for the changes to take effect.

Available in syslog-ng OSE 3.5 and later.

Example: Selecting messages using the in-list filter

Create a text file that contains the programs (as in the ${PROGRAM} field of their log messages) you want to select. For example, you want to forward only the logs of a few applications from a host: kernel, sshd, and sudo. Create the /etc/syslog-ng/programlist.list file with the following contents:


The following filter selects only the messages of the listed applications:

filter f_whitelist { in-list("/etc/syslog-ng/programlist.list", value("PROGRAM")); };

Create the appropriate sources and destinations for your environment, then create a log path that uses the previous filter to select only the log messages of the applications you need:

log {
    destination(d_logserver); };

To create a blacklist filter, simply negate the in-list filter:

filter f_blacklist { not in-list("/etc/syslog-ng/programlist.list", value("PROGRAM")); };
level() or priority()
Synopsis: level(<priority-level>) or level(<priority-level>..<priority-level>)

Description: The level() filter selects messages corresponding to a single importance level, or a level-range. To select messages of a specific level, use the name of the level as a filter parameter, for example use the following to select warning messages:


To select a range of levels, include the beginning and the ending level in the filter, separated with two dots (..). For example, to select every message of error or higher level, use the following filter:


The level() filter accepts the following levels: emerg, alert, crit, err, warning, notice, info, debug.

Synopsis: match(regexp)

Description: Match a regular expression to the headers and the message itself (that is, the values returned by the MSGHDR and MSG macros). Note that in syslog-ng version 2.1 and earlier, the match() filter was applied only to the text of the message, excluding the headers. This functionality has been moved to the message() filter.

To limit the scope of the match to a specific part of the message (identified with a macro), use the match(regexp value("MACRO")) syntax. Do not include the $ sign in the parameter of the value() option.

The value() parameter accepts both built-in macros and user-defined ones created with a parser or using a pattern database. For details on macros and parsers, see Templates and macros, Parsing messages with comma-separated and similar values, and Using parser results in filters and templates.

Synopsis: message(regexp)

Description: Match a regular expression to the text of the log message, excluding the headers (that is, the value returned by the MSG macros). Note that in syslog-ng version 2.1 and earlier, this functionality was performed by the match() filter.

Synopsis: netmask(ipv4/mask)

Description: Select only messages sent by a host whose IP address belongs to the specified IPv4 subnet. Note that this filter checks the IP address of the last-hop relay (the host that actually sent the message to syslog-ng OSE), not the contents of the HOST field of the message. You can use both the dot-decimal and the CIDR notation to specify the netmask. For example, or To filter IPv6 addresses, see netmask6().

Synopsis: netmask6(ipv6/mask)

Description: Select only messages sent by a host whose IP address belongs to the specified IPv6 subnet. Note that this filter checks the IP address of the last-hop relay (the host that actually sent the message to syslog-ng OSE), not the contents of the HOST field of the message. You can use both the regular and the compressed format to specify the IP address, for example, 1080:0:0:0:8:800:200C:417A or 1080::8:800:200C:417A. If you do not specify the address, localhost is used. Use the netmask (also called prefix) to specify how many of the leftmost bits of the address comprise the netmask (values 1-128 are valid). For example, the following specify a 60-bit prefix: 12AB:0000:0000:CD30:0000:0000:0000:0000/60 or 12AB::CD30:0:0:0:0/60. Note that if you set an IP address and a prefix, syslog-ng OSE will ignore the bits of the address after the prefix. To filter IPv4 addresses, see netmask().

The netmask6() filter is available in syslog-ng OSE 3.7 and later.


If the IP address is not syntactically correct, the filter will never match. The syslog-ng OSE application currently does not send a warning for such configuration errors.

Synopsis: program(regexp)

Description: Match messages by using a regular expression against the program name field of log messages.

Synopsis: source id

Description: Select messages of a source statement. This filter can be used in embedded log statements if the parent statement contains multiple source groups — only messages originating from the selected source group are sent to the destination of the embedded log statement.

Synopsis: tag

Description: Select messages labeled with the specified tag. Every message automatically has the tag of its source in .source.<id_of_the_source_statement> format. This option is available only in syslog-ng 3.1 and later.

Example: Adding tags and filtering messages with tags
source s_tcp {
    network(ip( port(1514) tags("tcp", "router"));

Use the tags() option of the filters to select only specific messages:

filter f_tcp {

filter f_router {


The syslog-ng OSE application automatically adds the class of the message as a tag using the .classifier.<message-class> format. For example, messages classified as "system" receive the .classifier.system tag. Use the tags() filter function to select messages of a specific class.

filter f_tag_filter {tags(".classifier.system");};

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Dropping messages

To skip the processing of a message without sending it to a destination, create a log statement with the appropriate filters, but do not include any destination in the statement, and use the final flag.

Example: Skipping messages

The following log statement drops all debug level messages without any further processing.

filter demo_debugfilter { level(debug); };
log { source(s_all); filter(demo_debugfilter); flags(final); };

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Global options of syslog-ng OSE

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Configuring global syslog-ng options

The syslog-ng application has a number of global options governing DNS usage, the timestamp format used, and other general points. Each option may have parameters, similarly to driver specifications. To set global options, add an option statement to the syslog-ng configuration file using the following syntax:

options { option1(params); option2(params); ... };
Example: Using global options

To disable domain name resolving, add the following line to the syslog-ng configuration file:

options { use-dns(no); };

For a detailed list of the available options, see Global options. For important global options and recommendations on their use, see Best practices and examples.

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