Command-line client for Papertrail hosted syslog & app log management service
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papertrail command-line tail & search client for Papertrail log management service

Small standalone binary to retrieve, search, and tail recent app server log and system syslog messages from Papertrail.

Supports optional Boolean search queries and polling for new events (like "tail -f"). Example:

$ papertrail -f "(www OR db) (nginx OR pgsql) -accepted"

Output is line-buffered so it can be fed into a pipe, like for grep. See below for colorization setup.

The Connection class can be used by other apps to perform one-off API searches or follow (tail) events matching a given query. Interface may change.

Quick Start

$ [sudo] gem install papertrail
$ echo "token: 123456789012345678901234567890ab" > ~/.papertrail.yml
$ papertrail

Retrieve token from Papertrail User Profile.


Install the gem (details on RubyGems), which includes a binary called "papertrail":

$ [sudo] gem install papertrail


Create ~/.papertrail.yml containing your API token, or specify the path to that file with -c. Example (from examples/papertrail.yml.example):

token: 123456789012345678901234567890ab

Retrieve token from Papertrail User Profile. For compatibility with older config files, username and password keys are also supported.

You may want to alias "trail" to "papertrail", like:

echo "alias pt=papertrail" >> ~/.bashrc

Usage & Examples

$ papertrail -h
papertrail - command-line tail and search for Papertrail log management service
    -h, --help                       Show usage
    -f, --follow                     Continue running and print new events (off)
    -d, --delay SECONDS              Delay between refresh (2)
    -c, --configfile PATH            Path to config (~/.papertrail.yml)
    -s, --system SYSTEM              System to search
    -g, --group GROUP                Group to search
    -j, --json                       Output raw json data
    --min-time MIN                   Earliest time to search from.
    --max-time MAX                   Latest time to search from.

  papertrail [-f] [-s system] [-g group] [-d seconds] [-c papertrail.yml] [-j] [--min-time mintime] [--max-time maxtime] [query]

  papertrail -f
  papertrail something
  papertrail 1.2.3 Failure
  papertrail -s ns1 "connection refused"
  papertrail -f "(www OR db) (nginx OR pgsql) -accepted"
  papertrail -f -g Production "(nginx OR pgsql) -accepted"
  papertrail -g Production --min-time 'yesterday at noon' --max-time 'today at 4am'



Pipe through colortail or MultiTail. We recommend colortail:

$ sudo gem install colortail

Save colortailrc as ~/.colortailrc and edit it to enable:

$ papertrail -f -d 5 | colortail -g papertrail


If you're using bash, create a function that accepts arguments, then invoke pt with optional search operators:

$ function pt() { papertrail -f -d 5 $_ | colortail -g papertrail }
$ pt 1.2.3 Failure

Add the function line to your ~/.bashrc.


For complete control, pipe through anything capable of inserting ANSI control characters. Here's an example that colorizes 3 fields separately

  • the first 15 characters for the date, a word for the hostname, and a word for the program name:

    $ papertrail | perl -pe 's/^(.{15})(.)([\S]+)(.)([\S]+)/\e[1;31;43m\1\e[0m\2\e[1;31;43m\3\e[0m\4\e[1;31;43m\5\e[0m/g'

the "1;31;43" are bold (1), foreground red (31), background yellow (43), and can be any ANSI escape characters.

UTF-8 (non-English searches)

When searching in a language other than English, if you get no matches, you may need to explicitly tell Ruby to use UTF-8. Ruby 1.9 honors the LANG shell environment variable, and your shell may not set it to UTF-8.

To test, try:

ruby -E:UTF-8 -S papertrail your_search

If that works, add -E:UTF-8 to the RUBYOPT variable to set the encoding at invocation. For example, to persist that in a .bashrc:

export RUBYOPT="-E:UTF-8"


Bug report:

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

Enhancement or fix:

  1. Fork the project:
  2. Make your changes with tests.
  3. Commit the changes without changing the Rakefile or other files unrelated to your enhancement.
  4. Send a pull request.