imfile snippets

Using rsyslog for remote logging (Rails and Haproxy)

Tagged rsyslog, haproxy, rails, imfile  Languages bash, ruby

First, consider using rsyslog’s imfile module to send log files to rsyslog instead of configuring Rails/Ruby to send log messsages to rsyslog:

Second, read “Reliable Forwarding of syslog Messages with Rsyslog”:

Also see Filebeat:

If you still want to Ruby to send the log messages to rsyslog, you need to tell your application to send log messages to syslog:

# Example in config/production.rb:
#   config.logger =
#   config.log_tags = [ :uuid, :remote_ip ]
require 'syslog/logger'

class LogHelper
  PROGRAM_NAME = "rails"
  LEVEL = Logger::DEBUG

  # Maps syslog severity to a string
    0 => 'debug',
    1 => 'info',
    2 => 'warn',
    3 => 'error',
    nil => ''

    # There can only be one program name
    l =
    l.formatter = proc do |severity, datetime, progname, msg|
      "[#{SEVERITY_MAP[severity].center(5)}] #{msg}\n"
    l.level = LEVEL
    # Add tags to log messages from thread local context, e.g., request.uuid


logger ="test")

Install and configure the rsyslog server

Next install rsyslog on the server:

$ sudo apt-get install rsyslog

Uncomment the TCP module:

# provides TCP syslog reception
$ModLoad imtcp
$InputTCPServerRun 514

Comment out the IncludeConfig directive:

# $IncludeConfig /etc/rsyslog.d/*.conf

We’ll use a DynaFile to simplify the rsyslog configuration:

$template DynaFile,"/var/log/hosts/%HOSTNAME%/%PROGRAMNAME%.log"
*.* -?DynaFile

This tells rsyslog to write to a file named after the host and program that sent the message, e.g., /var/log/hosts/prod-1/rails.log.

Install and configure rsyslog clients

The naming of rsyslog configuration files IS important. Rules are processed in alphabetic order according to file name:

$ ls /var/rsyslog.d/

First, tell syslog to forward everything to the remote rsyslog server by editing /etc/rsyslog.conf:

# Send all logs to centralized log server over TCP
*.*       @@

# Include all config files in /etc/rsyslog.d/
$IncludeConfig /etc/rsyslog.d/*.conf

You can configure application logs to be written to a local file in addition to the default (remote server):

if $programname startswith 'rails' then {
  # Uncomment this to disable forwarding:
  # & stop

Configure Haproxy

Add log-send-hostname to the haproxy configuration.

Haproxy only seems to work with UDP logging, so enable it in /etc/rsyslog.conf:

$ModLoad imudp
$UDPServerRun 514

Restarting rsyslog

Remember to restart rsyslog after checking the configuration is valid:

$ rsyslogd -N1
$ sudo service rsyslog restart

Tested with rsyslog version 8.


  • You will lose log messages because of rsyslog’s rate limiting and maximum message size configuration
  • Ruby’s syslog module only supports one program name
  • Make sure to check rsyslog’s own logs for warnings
  • You probably want to use monit to monitor that rsyslog is writing log messages to disk