logrotate – rotates, compresses, and mails system logs

logrotate [-dv] [-f|–force] [-s|–state file] config_file+

logrotate  is designed to ease administration of systems that generate large numbers of log files.  It allows automatic rotation, compression, removal, and mailing of log files.  Each log file may be handled daily, weekly, monthly, or when it grows too large.

Normally, logrotate is run as a daily cron job.  It will not modify a log multiple times in one day unless the criterium for that log is based on the log’s size and logrotate is being run multiple times each day, or unless the -f or -force option is used.

Any  number of config files may be given on the command line. Later config files may override the options given in earlier files, so the order in which the logrotate config files are listed in is important.  Normally, a single config file which includes any other config files which are needed should  be  used.
See  below  for  more  information on how to use the include directive to accomplish this.  If a directory is given on the command line, every file in that directory is used as a config file.

If no command line arguments are given, logrotate will print version and copyright information, along with a short usage  summary.   If  any  errors  occur while rotating logs, logrotate will exit with non-zero status.

     Turn on verbose mode.

-d     Turns on debug mode and implies -v.  In debug mode, no changes will be made to the logs or to the logrotate state file.

-f, –force Tells  logrotate to force the rotation, even if it doesn’t think this is necessary.  Sometimes this is useful after adding new entries to logrotate, or if old log files have been removed by hand, as the new files will be created, and logging will continue correctly.

-m, –mail <command>  Tells logrotate which command to use when mailing logs. This command should accept two arguments: 1) the subject of the message, and 2) the  recipient. The command must then read a message on standard input and mail it to the recipient. The default mail command is /bin/mail -s.

-s, –state <statefile> Tells  logrotate  to  use an alternate state file.  This is useful if logrotate is being run as a different user for various sets of log files.  The default state file is /var/lib/logrotate.status.

–usage Prints a short usage message.

logrotate reads everything about the log files it should be handling from the series of configuration files specified on the command line.  Each configuration  file  can  set global options (local definitions override global ones, and later definitions override earlier ones) and specify logfiles to rotate. A simple configuration file looks like this:

# sample logrotate configuration file

/var/log/messages {
 rotate 5
   /sbin/killall -HUP syslogd

“/var/log/httpd/access.log” /var/log/httpd/error.log {
           rotate 5
           size 100k
               /sbin/killall -HUP httpd

/var/log/news/* {
           rotate 2
           olddir /var/log/news/old
               kill -HUP ‘cat /var/run/‘

The first few lines set global options; in the example, logs are compressed after they are rotated.  Note that comments may appear anywhere in  the  config file as long as the first non-whitespace character on the line is a #.

The  next  section  of  the  config  files defined how to handle the log file /var/log/messages. The log will go through five weekly rotations before being removed. After the log file has been rotated (but before the old version of the log has been compressed), the command /sbin/killall -HUP  syslogd  will  be executed.

The  next  section defines the parameters for both /var/log/httpd/access.log and /var/log/httpd/error.log.  They are rotated whenever it grows over 100k in size, and the old logs files are mailed (uncompressed) to after going through 5 rotations, rather then being removed.  The  sharedscripts  means that  the  postrotate  script  will  only be run once, not once for each log which is rotated. Note that the double quotes around the first filename at the beginning of this section allows logrotate to rotate logs with spaces in the name. Normal shell quoting rules apply, with ’, “, and \ characters supported.

The  last section defines the parameters for all of the files in /var/log/news. Each file is rotated on a monthly basis.  This is considered a single rotation directive and if errors occur for more then one file, the log files are not compressed.

Please use wildcards with caution.  If you specify *, logrotate will rotate all files, including previously rotated ones.  A way around this is to use  the olddir directive or a more exact wildcard (such as *.log).

Here is more information on the directives which may be included in a logrotate configuration file:

              Old versions of log files are compressed with gzip by default. See also nocompress.

              Specifies which command to use to compress log files.  The default is gzip.  See also compress.

              Specifies which command to use to uncompress log files.  The default is gunzip.

              Specifies which extension to use on compressed logfiles, if compression is enabled.  The default follows that of the configured compression command.

              Command line options may be passed to the compression program, if one is in use.  The default, for gzip, is “-9” (maximum compression).

       copy   Make a copy of the log file, but don’t change the original at all.  This option can be used, for instance, to make a snapshot  of  the  current  log file,  or  when  some other utility needs to truncate or pare the file.  When this option is used, the create option will have no effect, as the old log file stays in place.

              Truncate the original log file in place after creating a copy, instead of moving the old log file and optionally creating a new one, It can be  used when  some  program  can  not  be told to close its logfile and thus might continue writing (appending) to the previous log file forever.  Note that there is a very small time slice between copying the file and truncating it, so some logging data might be lost.  When this option is used, the create option will have no effect, as the old log file stays in place.

       create mode owner group
              Immediately  after  rotation  (before the postrotate script is run) the log file is created (with the same name as the log file just rotated).  mode specifies the mode for the log file in octal (the same as chmod(2)), owner specifies the user name who will own the log file,  and  group  specifies the  group  the log file will belong to. Any of the log file attributes may be omitted, in which case those attributes for the new file will use the same values as the original log file for the omitted attributes. This option can be disabled using the nocreate option.

       daily  Log files are rotated every day.

              Archive old versions of log files adding a daily extension like YYYYMMDD instead of simply adding a number.

              Postpone compression of the previous log file to the next rotation cycle.  This has only effect when used in combination with compress.  It  can  be used when some program can not be told to close its logfile and thus might continue writing to the previous log file for some time.

       extension ext
              Log files with ext extension can keep it after the rotation.  If compression  is  used,  the compression extension (normally .gz) appears after ext.
              For example you have a logfile named and want to rotate it to instead of

              Rotate the log file even if it is empty, overiding the notifempty option (ifempty is the default).

       include file_or_directory
              Reads the file given as an argument as if it was included inline where the include directive appears. If a directory is given, most of the files  in that  directory are read in alphabetic order before processing of the including file continues. The only files which are ignored are files which are not regular files (such as directories and named pipes) and files whose names end with one of the taboo extensions, as  specified  by  the  tabooext directive.  The include directive may not appear inside of a log file definition.

       mail address
              When  a  log  is  rotated out-of-existence, it is mailed to address. If no mail should be generated by a particular log, the nomail directive may be used.

              When using the mail command, mail the just-rotated file, instead of the about-to-expire file.

              When using the mail command, mail the about-to-expire file, instead of the just-rotated file (this is the default).

       maxage count
              Remove rotated logs older than <count> days. The age is only checked if the logfile is to be rotated. The files are mailed to the configured address if maillast and mail are configured.

       minsize size
              Log  files  are  rotated  when they grow bigger then size bytes, but not before the additionally specified time interval (daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly).  The related size option is similar except that it is mutually exclusive with the time interval options, and it  causes  log  files  to  be rotated without regard for the last rotation time.  When minsize is used, both the size and timestamp of a log file are considered.

              If the log file is missing, go on to the next one without issuing an error message. See also nomissingok.

              Log files are rotated the first time logrotate is run in a month (this is normally on the first day of the month).

              Old versions of log files are not compressed with gzip. See also compress.

              Do not copy the original log file and leave it in place.  (this overrides the copy option).

              Do not truncate the original log file in place after creating a copy (this overrides the copytruncate option).

              New log files are not created (this overrides the create option).

              Do not postpone compression of the previous log file to the next rotation cycle (this overrides the delaycompress option).

              Do not archive  old versions of log files with date extension (this overrides the dateext option).

       nomail Don’t mail old log files to any address.

              If a log file does not exist, issue an error. This is the default.

              Logs are rotated in the same directory the log normally resides in (this overrides the olddir option).

              Run prerotate and postrotate scripts for every log file which is rotated (this is the default, and overrides the sharedscripts option).

              Do not rotate the log if it is empty (this overrides the ifempty option).

       olddir directory
              Logs  are  moved  into directory for rotation. The directory must be on the same physical device as the log file being rotated, and is assumed to be relative to the directory holding the log file unless an absolute path name is specified. When this option is used all old versions of the  log  end up in directory.  This option may be overriden by the noolddir option.

              The  lines  between  postrotate  and  endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed after the log file is rotated. These directives may only appear inside of a log file definition.  See prerotate as well.

              The lines between prerotate and endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed before the log file is rotated and only if the log will actually be rotated. These directives may only appear inside of a log file definition.  See postrotate as well.

              The lines between firstaction and endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed once before all log files that match the wildcarded pattern are rotated, before prerotate script is run and only if at least one log will actually be  rotated.  These  directives  may  only appear inside of a log file definition. See lastaction as well.

              The  lines  between lastaction and endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed once after all log files that match the wildcarded pattern are rotated, after postrotate script is run and only if at least one log is rotated. These directives may only appear inside of a log file definition. See firstaction as well.

       rotate count
              Log  files  are  rotated  <count> times before being removed or mailed to the address specified in a mail directive. If count is 0, old versions are removed rather then rotated.

       size size
              Log files are rotated when they grow bigger then size bytes. If size is followed by M, the size if assumed to be in megabytes.  If the  k  is  used, the size is in kilobytes. So size 100, size 100k, and size 100M are all valid.

              Normally,  prescript  and  postscript  scripts are run for each log which is rotated, meaning that a single script may be run multiple times for log file entries which match multiple files (such as the /var/log/news/* example). If sharedscript is specified, the scripts are only run once, no  mat- ter  how  many logs match the wildcarded pattern.  However, if none of the logs in the pattern require rotating, the scripts will not be run at all. This option overrides the nosharedscripts option and implies create option.

       start count
              This is the number to use as the base for rotation. For example, if you specify 0, the logs will be created with a .0 extension as they are  rotated from  the original log files.  If you specify 9, log files will be created with a .9, skipping 0-8.  Files will still be rotated the number of times specified with the count directive.

       tabooext [+] list
              The current taboo extension list is changed (see the include directive for information on the taboo extensions). If a + precedes the list of  exten- sions,  the  current  taboo extension list is augmented, otherwise it is replaced. At startup, the taboo extension list contains .rpmorig, .rpmsave ,v, .swp, .rpmnew, and ~.

               Log files are rotated if the current weekday is less then the weekday of the last rotation or if more then a week has passed since  the  last  rotation. This is normally the same as rotating logs on the first day of the week, but it works better if logrotate is not run every night.

                Log files are rotated if the current year is not the same as the last rotation.

       /var/lib/logrotate.status  Default state file.
       /etc/logrotate.conf        Configuration options.


       Erik Troan <>
       Preston Brown <>

Red Hat Linux                   Wed Nov 5 2002                    LOGROTATE(8)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

clear formPost comment