Syslogstash is intended to provide a syslog-compatible socket for one or more applications to send their syslog messages to. The messages are then parsed and sent to a logstash server for posterity. No more needing to run a syslog server that writes to a file, just to have a second program that reads those files again. With syslogstash, everything is in one neat little package.

If you're running a containerised environment, there's a reasonable chance you've got multiple things that want to log to syslog, but you want to keep them organised and separate. That's easy: just run multiple syslogstash instances, one per "virtual syslog socket" you want to provide. Multiple containers can share the same socket, they'll just share a logstash connection and have the same metadata / extra tags.

For maximum flexibility, you can optionally feed the syslog messages to one or more other "downstream" sockets, and/or print all the log messages to stdout for ad-hoc "local" debugging.


It's a gem:

gem install syslogstash

There's also the wonders of the Gemfile:

gem 'syslogstash'

If you're the sturdy type that likes to run from git:

rake install

Or, if you've eschewed the convenience of Rubygems entirely, then you presumably know what to do already.


Published image at

To build a new Docker image, run rake docker:build. A rake docker:push will push out a new release.


Syslogstash is configured by means of environment variables. At the very least, syslogstash needs to know where logstash is (LOGSTASH_SERVER), and the socket to listen on for syslog messages (SYSLOG_SOCKET). You specify those on the command line, like so:


The full set of environment variables, and their meaning, is described in the "Syslogstash Configuration" section, below.

Logstash server setup

The logstash server(s) you send the collected messages to must be configured to listen on a TCP port with the json_lines codec. This can be done quite easily as follows:

  tcp {
    port  => 5151
    codec => "json_lines"

Adjust the port number to taste.


There are a few signals that syslogstash recognises, to control various aspects of runtime operation. They are:

  • SIGUSR1 / SIGUSR2 -- tell syslogstash to increase (USR1) or decrease (USR2) the verbosity of its own internal logging. This doesn't change in any way the nature or volume of syslog messages that are processed and sent to logstash, it is only for syslogstash's own internal operational logging.

  • SIGURG -- toggle whether or not relaying to stdout is enabled or disabled.

  • SIGHUP -- pretend that the currently in-use logstash server has failed, and trigger the random-server-selection logic to (potentially) pick a new server. Useful if you want to make sure that syslogstash won't drop any messages when retiring a logstash server -- just remove the logstash server from DNS, then SIGHUP syslogstash to make it switch to another server.

  • SIGQUIT -- dump thread stacktraces and allocation information to stderr.

  • SIGINT / SIGTERM -- gracefully terminate. Sending either signal twice will cause shutdown to be done somewhat less gracefully.

Use with Docker

For convenience, syslogstash is available in a Docker container, discourse/syslogstash:v2. It requires a bit of gymnastics to get the syslog socket from the syslogstash container to whatever container you want to capture syslog messages from. Typically, you'll want to share a volume between the two containers, tell syslogstash to create its socket there, and then symlink /dev/log from the other container to there.

For example, you might start the syslogstash container like this:

docker run -v /srv/docker/syslogstash:/syslogstash \
  -e LOGSTASH_SERVER=logstash-json \
  -e SYSLOG_SOCKET=/syslogstash/log.sock \

Then use the same volume in your other container:

docker run -v /srv/docker/syslogstash:/syslogstash something/funny

In the other container's startup script, include the following command:

ln -sf /syslogstash/log.sock /dev/log

... and everything will work nicely.

If you feel like playing on nightmare mode, you can also mount the log socket directly into the other container, like this:

docker run -v /srv/docker/syslogstash/log.sock:/dev/log something/funny

This allows you to deal with poorly-implemented containers which run software that logs to syslog but doesn't provide a way to override where /dev/log points. However, due to the way bind mounts and Unix sockets interact, if the syslogstash container restarts for any reason, you also need to restart any containers that have the socket itself as a volume. If you can coax your container management system into satisfying that condition, then you're golden.

Syslogstash Configuration

All configuration of syslogstash is done by placing values in environment variables. The environment variables that syslogstash recognises are listed below.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_LOGSTASH_SERVER (required) -- the domain name or address of the logstash server(s) you wish to send entries to. This can be any of:

    • An IPv4 address and port, separated by a colon. For example, The port must be specified.
    • An IPv6 address (enclosed in square brackets) and port, separated by a colon. For example, [2001:db8::42]:5151. The port must be specified.
    • A fully-qualified or relative domain name and port, separated by a colon. The name given will be resolved and all IPv4 and IPv6 addresses returned will be tried in random order until a successful connection is made to one of them. The port must be specified.
    • A fully-qualified or relative domain name without a port. In this case, the name given will be resolved as a SRV record, and the names and ports returned will be used.

In all cases, syslogstash respects DNS record TTLs and SRV record weight/priority selection rules. We're not monsters.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_SYSLOG_SOCKET (required) -- the absolute path to the socket which syslogstash should create and listen on for syslog format messages.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_BACKLOG_SIZE (optional; default "1000000") -- the maximum number of messages to queue if the logstash servers are unavailable. Under normal operation, syslog messages are immediately relayed to the logstash server as they are received. However, if no logstash servers are available, syslogstash will maintain a backlog of up to this many syslog messages, and will send the entire backlog once a logstash server becomes available again.

    In the event that the queue size limit is reached, the oldest messages will be dropped to make way for the new ones.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_RELAY_TO_STDOUT (optional; default "no") -- if set to a true-ish string (any of true, yes, on, or 1, compared case-insensitively), then all the syslog messages which are received will be printed to stdout (with the priority/facility prefix removed). This isn't a replacement for a fully-featured syslog server, merely a quick way to dump messages if absolutely required.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_METRICS_PORT (optional; default "") -- if set to a valid port number (1-65535), a Prometheus-compatible statistics exporter will be started, listening on all interfaces on the specified port.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_ADD_FIELD_<name> (optional) -- if you want to add extra fields to the entries which are forwarded to logstash, you can specify them here, for example:

    ADD_FIELD_foo=bar ADD_FIELD_baz=wombat [...] syslogstash

    This will cause all entries sent to logstash to contain "foo": "bar" and "baz": "wombat", in addition to the rest of the fields usually created by syslogstash. Note that nested fields, and value types other than strings, are not supported. Also, if you specify a field name also used by syslogstash, the results are explicitly undefined.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_RELAY_SOCKETS (optional; default "") -- on the off-chance you want to feed the syslog messages that syslogstash receives to another syslog-compatible consumer (say, an old-school syslogd) you can specify additional filenames to use here. Multiple socket filenames can be specified by separating each file name with a colon. Syslogstash will open each of the specified sockets, if they exist, and write each received message to the socket. If the socket does not exist, or the open or write operations fail, syslogstash will not retry.

  • SYSLOGSTASH_DROP_REGEX (optional) -- Regular expression to run on input, if it matches then the message will be dropped and not sent to logstash. However, it will still be sent to stdout and any relay sockets, if those options are enabled.


Bug reports should be sent to the Github issue tracker. Patches can be sent as a [Github pull request](].


Unless otherwise stated, everything in this repo is covered by the following copyright notice:

Copyright (C) 2015, 2018, 2019 Civilized Discourse Construction Kit Inc.

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it
under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 3, as
published by the Free Software Foundation.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program.  If not, see <>.