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remote_syslog Ruby daemon & sender

Lightweight Ruby daemon to tail one or more log files and transmit UDP syslog messages to a remote syslog host (centralized log aggregation).

remote_syslog generates UDP packets itself instead of depending on a system syslog daemon, so its configuration doesn't affect system-wide logging - syslog is just the transport.


  • collecting logs from servers & daemons which don't natively support syslog
  • when reconfiguring the system logger is less convenient than a purpose-built daemon (e.g., automated app deployments)
  • aggregating files not generated by daemons (e.g., package manager logs)

The library can also be used to generate one-off log messages from Ruby code.

Tested with the hosted log management service Papertrail and should work for transmitting to any syslog server.


Install the gem, which includes a binary called "remote_syslog":

$ [sudo] gem install remote_syslog

Optionally, create a log_files.yml with the log file paths to read and the host/port to log to (see examples/log_files.yml.example). These can also be specified as command-line arguments (below).


$ remote_syslog -h
Usage: remote_syslog [options] [<logfile>...]

Example: remote_syslog -c configs/logs.yml -p 12345 /var/log/mysqld.log

    -c, --configfile PATH            Path to config (/etc/log_files.yml)
    -d, --dest-host HOSTNAME         Destination syslog hostname or IP (
    -p, --dest-port PORT             Destination syslog port (514)
    -D, --no-detach                  Don't daemonize and detach from the terminal
    -f, --facility FACILITY          Facility (user)
        --hostname HOST              Local hostname to send from
    -P, --pid-dir DIRECTORY          Directory to write .pid file in (/var/run/)
        --pid-file FILENAME          PID filename (<program name>.pid)
        --parse-syslog               Parse file as syslog-formatted file
    -s, --severity SEVERITY          Severity (notice)
        --strip-color                Strip color codes
        --tls                        Connect via TCP with TLS
    -h, --help                       Show this message



$ remote_syslog

Daemonize and collect messages from files listed in ./config/logs.yml as well as the file /var/log/mysqld.log. Send to port

$ remote_syslog -c configs/logs.yml -p 12345 /var/log/mysqld.log

Stay attached to the terminal, look for and use /etc/log_files.yml if it exists, write PID to /tmp/, and send with facility local0 to

$ remote_syslog -D -d -f local0 -P /tmp /var/log/mysqld.log

remote_syslog will daemonize by default. A sample init file is in the gem as remote_syslog.init.d. You may be able to:

$ cp examples/remote_syslog.init.d /etc/init.d/remote_syslog

Sending messages securely

If the receiving system supports sending syslog over TCP with TLS, you can pass the --tls option when running remote_syslog:

$ remote_syslog --tls -p 1234 /var/log/mysqld.log


By default, the gem looks for a configuration in /etc/log_files.yml.

The gem comes with a sample config. Optionally:

$ cp examples/log_files.yml.example /etc/log_files.yml

log_files.yml has filenames to log from (as an array) and hostname and port to log to (as a hash). Wildcards are supported using * and standard shell globbing. Filenames given on the command line are additive to those in the config file.

Only 1 destination server is supported; the command-line argument wins.

 - /var/log/httpd/access_log
 - /var/log/httpd/error_log
 - /var/log/mysqld.log
 - /var/run/mysqld/mysqld-slow.log
  port: 12345

remote_syslog sends the name of the file without a path ("mysqld.log") as the syslog tag (program name). RFCs 3164 and 5424 limit the tag to 32 characters. Longer filenames are truncated to 32 characters.

Advanced Configuration (Optional)

Here's an advanced config which uses all options.

Override hostname

Provide --hostname somehostname or use the hostname configuration option:

hostname: somehostname

Verify server certificate

Provide the public key for the remote host when using TLS:

ssl_server_cert: syslog.crt

Use a client certificate

Provide a client certificate when connecting via TLS:

ssl_client_cert_chain: syslog_client.crt
ssl_client_private_key: syslog_client.key

Detecting new files

All input files (filenames or globs) are re-checked for new files every 60 seconds. Ruby's Dir.glob is used.

This means that files may be added and removed as long as they match a glob path provided to remote_syslog. Also, explicitly-provided filenames need not exist when remote_syslog is started. remote_syslog can be preconfigured to monitor log files which are created later (or may never be created).

Multiple instances

Run multiple instances to support more than one message-specific file format or to specify unique syslog hostnames.

To do that, provide an alternate PID filename as a command-line option to the additional instance(s). For example:


Parse fields from log messages

Rarely needed. Usually only used when remote_syslog is watching files generated by syslogd (rather than by apps), like /var/log/messages.

remote_syslog can parse the program and hostname from the log line. When one file contains logs from multiple programs (like with syslog), the log line may include text that is not part of the log message, like a timestamp, hostname, or program name. remote_syslog will extract those and use them in the corresponding syslog packet fields.

To do that, use the config file option parse_fields with the name of a format supported by remote_syslog, or your own regex. Included format names are syslog and rfc3339. For example:

parse_fields: syslog

The included syslog format uses the regex (\w+ \d+ \S+) (\S+) ([^:]+): (.*) to parse standard syslog lines like this:

Jul 18 08:25:08 hostname programname[1234]: The log message

The included rfc3339 format uses the regex (\S+) (\S+) ([^: ]+):? (.*) to parse syslog lines with high-precision RFC 3339 timestamps, like this:

2011-07-16T08:25:08.651413-07:00 hostname programname[1234]: The log message

To parse a format other than those, provide your own regex. It should include 4 backreferences to parse, in order: timestamp, system name, program name, message.

Match and return empty strings for any empty positions where the log line doesn't provide a value. For example, given the log message:

something-meaningless The log message

One could use a regex to ignore "something-meaningless" (and not to extract a program or hostname). To ignore that prefix and return 3 empty values then the log message, use parse_fields with this regex:

parse_fields: "something-meaningless ()()()(.*)"

Per-file regexes are not supported. Run multiple instances with different config files.

Excluding lines matching a pattern

There may be certain log messages that you do not want to be sent. These may repetitive log lines that are "noise" that you might not be able to filter out easily from the respective application. To filter these lines, use the exclude_patterns with an array or regexes:

 - exclude this
 - \d+ things

Reporting bugs

  1. See whether the issue has already been reported:
  2. If you don't find one, create an issue with a repro case.


Once you've made your great commits:

  1. Fork remote_syslog
  2. Create a topic branch - git checkout -b my_branch
  3. Commit the changes without changing the Rakefile or other files unrelated to your enhancement.
  4. Push to your branch - git push origin my_branch
  5. Create a Pull Request or an Issue with a link to your branch
  6. That's it!
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