4.11.11. HOWTO Set Up Centralized Log Collection with Rsyslog

SIMP provides a pre-built set of classes in the simp-simp_rsyslog and simp-rsyslog Puppet modules for enabling centralized logging within the infrastructure. simp-simp_rsyslog is a profile module that uses simp-rsyslog.

There are no provisions here for setting up shared storage or deduplication. This is inherently not a use case that Rsyslog is well designed for and we suggest that you look at an alternative.


For an overview of how to use Hiera to manage class parameters, please see Classification and Data. Preparation The simp_rsyslog Profile Module

SIMP’s profile module, simp_rsyslog, helps configure systems for local and remote logging.

The simp_rsyslog class is automatically included on systems if the simp or simp_lite scenarios are used and, by default, configures local logging.

If scenarios are not being used, include the simp_rsyslog class on all systems including the log server. If you are using the default SIMP install, you can add it to the simp::classes array. Otherwise, you will need to use a standard Puppet include mechanism. What is Logged

The simp-simp_rsyslog module uses the following parameters:

simp_rsyslog::default_logs     # A Hash of the default system logs to be collected
simp_rsyslog::log_collection   # Use this Hash to add logs to the default set

There are also Booleans available to enable collection of certain logs, such as those from OpenLDAP. See the simp-simp_rsyslog module for more details. The Log Hash Format

The Hashes mentioned above are complex in nature but provide a clean interface to most aspects of log collection targeted to most users.

The Puppet Data Type representation of the Hashes is as follows:


This means that you can have a Hash, with any of the keys programs, facilities, msg_starts, or msg_regex followed by an Array of Strings.

Using the following example Hash:

  'programs'   => [ 'sudo' ],
  'facilities' => [ 'cron.*' ],
  'msg_starts' => [ 'IMPORTANT:' ],
  'msg_regex'  => [ '*bad_guys*' ]

The programs line would match the following due to the highlighted section:

2017-03-14T15:26:53.589793+00:00 sample.host.name sudo: test_user : TTY=pts/0 ; PWD=/home/test_user ; USER=root ; COMMAND=/usr/sbin/visudo

The facilities line would match the following because the listed facility is cron:

2017-03-14T15:26:53.589793+00:00 sample.host.name CROND[31415]: (root) CMD (run-parts /etc/cron.hourly)

The msg_starts line would match the following due to the highlighted section:

2017-03-14T15:26:53.589793+00:00 sample.host.name kernel: IMPORTANT: This is an important message

The msg_regex line would match the following due to the highlighted section:

2017-03-14T15:26:53.589793+00:00 sample.host.name kernel: This system was prodded by bad_guys and should be watched Set Log Servers

The list of log servers are usually set during simp config, and placed in the simp_config_settings.yaml Hiera file.

If this value needs to be changed, either simp config can be run again or the values below can be overridden in default.yaml or similar Hiera file to reach all nodes:

  - 'logserver1.fullyqualified.domain'
  - 'logserver2.fullyqualified.domain'
  - 'failoverserver1.fullyqualified.domain'
  - 'failoverserver2.fullyqualified.domain'

If you list more than one primary log server your logs will be forwarded to all of the log servers in the array.

Failover log servers are optional.


If log forwarding is enabled on your log server, make sure you override the log server settings to NOT include itself. This will cause looping and will fill the disks on the system very quickly with repeated messages.


It is common in big environments to use DNS aliases or to cluster servers so determining the name a server is using for logging is not straightforward. Because of this SIMP cannot reliably determine if a host is forwarding to itself. TLS

If encryption is going to be used, make sure the certificates are in place. See the Apply Certificates documentation to understand how SIMP modules distribute certificates.

If SIMP is not being used to distribute certificates, see the documentation for the following PKI-related parameters in the rsyslog class of the simp-rsyslog module:

  • rsyslog::pki
  • rsyslog::app_pki_external_source_dir
  • rsyslog::app_pki_dir Enable Clients

To set up the clients enter the following settings in the default.yaml or similar Hiera file to reach all clients:

#If using TLS
simp_rsyslog::forward_logs: true
rsyslog::enable_tls_logging: true


#If not using TLS
simp_rsyslog::forward_logs: true
rsyslog::pki: false
rsyslog::enable_tls_logging: false Enable the Server

To set up the server enter the following in the server’s Hiera file:

# If using TLS
simp_rsyslog::is_server: true
simp_rsyslog::forward_logs: false
rsyslog::tls_tcp_server: true


# If NOT using TLS
simp_rsyslog::is_server: true
simp_rsyslog::forward_logs: false
rsyslog::tcp_server: true
rsyslog::tls_tcp_server: false

After puppet has run on all the systems, the logs from the clients will be stored in /var/log/hosts/<client name> directory on the log server.

simp-simp_rsyslog also sets up log rotation for these files by default using the simp-logrotate module. Forwarding Log Files from a Log Server

If the log server needs to forward logs to another server, edit its Hiera file. Set simp_rsyslog::forward_logs to true and make sure that the log_servers array used on the relevant node does not include itself in the list. For example for a server using TLS:

simp_rsyslog::is_server: true
simp_rsyslog::forward_logs: true
rsyslog::tls_tcp_server: true
  - 'some-other-log-server.that.is.not.me'
  - 'some-other-failover-server.that.is.not.me'

This will forward the server’s own logs, and all received client logs, to the specified servers.