syslog-ng Open Source Edition 3.18 - 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 linux-audit: Collecting messages from Linux audit logs 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 python: writing server-style Python sources python-fetcher: writing fetcher-style Python sources 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 (DEPRECATED) 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() python: writing custom Python destinations 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 Client-side failover
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

kafka: Publishing messages to Apache Kafka

Starting with version 3.7, syslog-ng OSE can directly publish log messages to the Apache Kafka message bus, where subscribers can access them.

  • This destination is only supported on the Linux platform.

  • Since syslog-ng OSE uses the official Java Kafka producer, the kafka destination has significant memory usage.

  • The log messages of the underlying client libraries are available in the internal() source of syslog-ng OSE.

@module mod-java
@include "scl.conf"


Example: Sending log data to Apache Kafka

The following example defines a kafka destination, using only the required parameters.

@module mod-java
@include "scl.conf"

destination d_kafka {

The kafka() driver is actually a reusable configuration snippet configured to receive log messages using the Java language-binding of syslog-ng OSE. For details on using or writing such configuration snippets, see Reusing configuration blocks. You can find the source of the kafka configuration snippet on GitHub. For details on extending syslog-ng OSE in Java, see the Getting started with syslog-ng development guide.


If you delete all Java destinations from your configuration and reload syslog-ng, the JVM is not used anymore, but it is still running. If you want to stop JVM, stop syslog-ng and then start syslog-ng again.

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To publish messages from syslog-ng OSE to Apache Kafka, complete the following steps.

  1. If you want to use the Java-based modules of syslog-ng OSE (for example, the Elasticsearch, HDFS, or Kafka destinations), you must compile syslog-ng OSE with Java support.

    • Download and install the Java Runtime Environment (JRE), 1.7 (or newer). You can use OpenJDK or Oracle JDK, other implementations are not tested.

    • Install gradle version 2.2.1 or newer.

    • Set LD_LIBRARY_PATH to include the file, for example:LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/jvm/java-7-openjdk-amd64/jre/lib/amd64/server:$LD_LIBRARY_PATH

      Note that many platforms have a simplified links for Java libraries. Use the simplified path if available. If you use a startup script to start syslog-ng OSE set LD_LIBRARY_PATH in the script as well.

    • If you are behind an HTTP proxy, create a under the modules/java-modules/ directory. Set the proxy parameters in the file. For details, see The Gradle User Guide.

  2. Download the latest stable binary release of the Apache Kafka libraries (version 0.9 or newer) from

  3. Extract the Apache Kafka libraries into a single directory. If needed, collect the various .jar files into a single directory (for example, /opt/kafka/lib/) where syslog-ng OSE can access them. You must specify this directory in the syslog-ng OSE configuration file.

  4. Check if the following files in the Kafka libraries have the same version number: slf4j-api-<version-number>.jar, slf4j-log4j12-<version-number>.jar. If the version number of these files is different, complete the following steps:

    1. Delete one of the files (for example, slf4j-log4j12-<version-number>.jar).

    2. Download a version that matches the version number of the other file (for example, 1.7.6) from the official SLF4J distribution.

    3. Copy the downloaded file into the directory of your Kafka library files (for example, /opt/kafka/lib/).

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How syslog-ng OSE interacts with Apache Kafka

When stopping the syslog-ng OSE application, syslog-ng OSE will not stop until all Java threads are finished, including the threads started by the Kafka Producer. There is no way (except for the kill -9 command) to stop syslog-ng OSE before the Kafka Producer stops. To change this behavior set the properties of the Kafka Producer in its properties file, and reference the file in the properties-file option.

The syslog-ng OSE kafka destination tries to reconnect to the brokers in a tight loop. This can look as spinning, because of a lot of similar debug messages. To decrease the amount of such messages, set a bigger timeout using the following properties:

For details on using property files, see properties-file(). For details on the properties that you can set in the property file, see the Apache Kafka documentation.

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Kafka destination options

The kafka destination of syslog-ng OSE can directly publish log messages to the Apache Kafka message bus, where subscribers can access them. The kafka destination has the following options.

Required options:

The following options are required: kafka-bootstrap-servers(), topic(). Note that to use kafka, you must add the following lines to the beginning of your syslog-ng OSE configuration:

@module mod-java
@include "scl.conf"
Type: string
Default: The syslog-ng OSE module directory: /opt/syslog-ng/lib/syslog-ng/java-modules/

Description: The list of the paths where the required Java classes are located. For example, class-path("/opt/syslog-ng/lib/syslog-ng/java-modules/:/opt/my-java-libraries/libs/"). If you set this option multiple times in your syslog-ng OSE configuration (for example, because you have multiple Java-based destinations), syslog-ng OSE will merge every available paths to a single list.

For the kafka destination, include the path to the directory where you copied the required libraries (see Prerequisites), for example, client-lib-dir("/opt/syslog-ng/lib/syslog-ng/java-modules/KafkaDestination.jar:/usr/share/kafka/lib/*.jar").

Type: list of hostnames

Description: Specifies the hostname or IP address of the Kafka server. When specifying an IP address, IPv4 (for example, or IPv6 (for example, [::1]) can be used as well. Use a colon (:) after the address to specify the port number of the server. When specifying multiple addresses, use a comma to separate the addresses, for example, kafka-bootstrap-servers(",remote-server-hostname:6464")

Type: number
Default: 0

Description: The syslog-ng application can store fractions of a second in the timestamps according to the ISO8601 format. The frac-digits() parameter specifies the number of digits stored. The digits storing the fractions are padded by zeros if the original timestamp of the message specifies only seconds. Fractions can always be stored for the time the message was received. Note that syslog-ng can add the fractions to non-ISO8601 timestamps as well.


Description: This option makes it possible to execute external programs when the relevant driver is initialized or torn down. The hook-commands() can be used with all source and destination drivers with the exception of the usertty() and internal() drivers.

NOTE: The syslog-ng OSE application must be able to start and restart the external program, and have the necessary permissions to do so. For example, if your host is running AppArmor or SELinux, you might have to modify your AppArmor or SELinux configuration to enable syslog-ng OSE to execute external applications.

Using the hook-commands() when syslog-ng OSE starts or stops

To execute an external program when syslog-ng OSE starts or stops, use the following options:

Type: string
Default: N/A

Description: Defines the external program that is executed as syslog-ng OSE starts.

Type: string
Default: N/A

Description: Defines the external program that is executed as syslog-ng OSE stops.

Using the hook-commands() when syslog-ng OSE reloads

To execute an external program when the syslog-ng OSE configuration is initiated or torn down, for example, on startup/shutdown or during a syslog-ng OSE reload, use the following options:

Type: string
Default: N/A

Description: Defines an external program that is executed when the syslog-ng OSE configuration is initiated, for example, on startup or during a syslog-ng OSE reload.

Type: string
Default: N/A

Description: Defines an external program that is executed when the syslog-ng OSE configuration is stopped or torn down, for example, on shutdown or during a syslog-ng OSE reload.

Example: Using the hook-commands() with a network source

In the following example, the hook-commands() is used with the network() driver and it opens an iptables port automatically as syslog-ng OSE is started/stopped.

The assumption in this example is that the LOGCHAIN chain is part of a larger ruleset that routes traffic to it. Whenever the syslog-ng OSE created rule is there, packets can flow, otherwise the port is closed.

source {
          startup("iptables -I LOGCHAIN 1 -p udp --dport 514 -j ACCEPT")
          shutdown("iptables -D LOGCHAIN 1")
Type: list
Default: N/A

Description: Specify the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) settings of your Java destination from the syslog-ng OSE configuration file.

For example:

jvm-options("-Xss1M -XX:+TraceClassLoading")

You can set this option only as a global option, by adding it to the options statement of the syslog-ng configuration file.

Accepted values:



Default: Use the global setting (which defaults to drop-message)

Description: Controls what happens when type-casting fails and syslog-ng OSE cannot convert some data to the specified type. By default, syslog-ng OSE drops the entire message and logs the error. Currently the value-pairs() option uses the settings of on-error().

  • drop-message: Drop the entire message and log an error message to the internal() source. This is the default behavior of syslog-ng OSE.

  • drop-property: Omit the affected property (macro, template, or message-field) from the log message and log an error message to the internal() source.

  • fallback-to-string: Convert the property to string and log an error message to the internal() source.

  • silently-drop-message: Drop the entire message silently, without logging the error.

  • silently-drop-property: Omit the affected property (macro, template, or message-field) silently, without logging the error.

  • silently-fallback-to-string: Convert the property to string silently, without logging the error.

Type: template
Default: N/A

Description: The key of the partition under which the message is published. You can use templates to change the topic dynamically based on the source or the content of the message, for example, key("${PROGRAM}").

Type: number
Default: Use global setting.

Description: The number of messages that the output queue can store.

Type: string (absolute path)
Default: N/A

Description: The absolute path and filename of the Kafka properties file to load. For example, properties-file("/opt/syslog-ng/etc/"). The syslog-ng OSE application reads this file and passes the properties to the Kafka Producer. If a property is defined both in the syslog-ng OSE configuration file (syslog-ng.conf) and in the properties file, then syslog-ng OSE uses the definition from the syslog-ng OSE configuration file.

The syslog-ng OSE kafka destination supports all properties of the official Kafka producer. For details, see the Apache Kafka documentation.

The kafka-bootstrap-servers option is translated to the bootstrap.servers property.

For example, the following properties file defines the acknowledgement method and compression:

Type: number (of attempts)
Default: 3

Description: The number of times syslog-ng OSE attempts to send a message to this destination. If syslog-ng OSE could not send a message, it will try again until the number of attempts reaches retries, then drops the message.

Type: true | false
Default: false

Description: When sync-send is set to true, syslog-ng OSE sends the message reliably: it sends a message to the Kafka server, then waits for a reply. In case of failure, syslog-ng OSE repeats sending the message, as set in the retries() parameter. If sending the message fails for retries() times, syslog-ng OSE drops the message.

This method ensures reliable message transfer, but is very slow.

When sync-send is set to false, syslog-ng OSE sends messages asynchronously, and receives the response asynchronously. In case of a problem, syslog-ng OSE cannot resend the messages.

This method is fast, but the transfer is not reliable. Several thousands of messages can be lost before syslog-ng OSE recognizes the error.

Type: template or template function

Description: The message as published to Apache Kafka. You can use templates and template functions (for example, format-json()) to format the message, for example, template("$(format-json --scope rfc5424 --exclude DATE --key ISODATE)").

For details on formatting messages in JSON format, see format-json.

Type: number
Default: 0

Description: Sets the maximum number of messages sent to the destination per second. Use this output-rate-limiting functionality only when using disk-buffer as well to avoid the risk of losing messages. Specifying 0 or a lower value sets the output limit to unlimited.

Type: template
Default: N/A

Description: The Kafka topic under which the message is published. You can use templates to change the topic dynamically based on the source or the content of the message, for example, topic("${HOST}").

Type: name of the timezone, or the timezone offset
Default: unspecified

Description: Convert timestamps to the timezone specified by this option. If this option is not set, then the original timezone information in the message is used. Converting the timezone changes the values of all date-related macros derived from the timestamp, for example, HOUR. For the complete list of such macros, see Date-related macros.

The timezone can be specified by using the name, for example, time-zone("Europe/Budapest")), or as the timezone offset in +/-HH:MM format, for example, +01:00). On Linux and UNIX platforms, the valid timezone names are listed under the /usr/share/zoneinfo directory.

Type: rfc3164, bsd, rfc3339, iso
Default: rfc3164

Description: Override the global timestamp format (set in the global ts-format() parameter) for the specific destination. For details, see ts-format().


This option applies only to file and file-like destinations. Destinations that use specific protocols (for example, network(), or syslog()) ignore this option. For protocol-like destinations, use a template locally in the destination, or use the proto-template option.

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