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Failover Syslog Server

There are often situations where syslog data from the local system should be sent to a central syslogd (for consolidation, archival and whatever other reasons). A common problem is that messages are lost when the central syslogd goes down. Rsyslog has the capability to work with failover servers to prevent message loss. A prerequisite is that TCP based syslog or RELP forwarding is used to send to the central server. The reason is that with UDP there is no reliable way to detect the remote system has gone away. Let’s assume you have a primary and two secondary central servers. Then, you can use the following config file excerpt to send data to them:

if($msg contains "error") then {
     action(type="omfwd" target="primary-syslog.example.com" port="10514"
            protocol="tcp")
     action(type="omfwd" target="secondary-1-syslog.example.com" port="10514"
            action.execOnlyWhenPreviousIsSuspended="on")
     action(type="omfwd" target="secondary-2-syslog.example.com" port="10514"
            action.execOnlyWhenPreviousIsSuspended="on")
     action(type="omfile" tag="failover" file="/var/log/localbuffer"
            action.execOnlyWhenPreviousIsSuspended="on")
}

The action processes all messages that contain “error”. It tries to forward every message to primary-syslog.example.com (via tcp). If it can not reach that server, it tries secondary-1-syslog.example.com, if that fails too, it tries secondary-2-syslog.example.com. If neither of these servers can be connected, the data is stored in /var/log/localbuffer. Please note that the secondaries and the local log buffer are only used if the one before them does not work. So ideally, /var/log/localbuffer will never receive a message. If one of the servers resumes operation, it automatically takes over processing again.

Important: Failover will not work when you define queues on the actions. This is because a queue explicitely tells rsyslog that the action shall be processed asynchronously. With asynchronous processing you do not have any feedback capability. As such, the action will never fail.

If you would like to use a queue on the forwarding process as whole, the solution is to put all actions into a ruleset and assing a queue to the ruleset. In that configuration, the ruleset is process asynchronously, but inside the rule set each action is processed synchronously and can provide feedback, which permits to detect failed actions.

To do so, the above example can be rewritten as follows:

ruleset(name="forwarding" queue.type="linkedList" queue.filename="fwdq") {
     action(type="omfwd" target="primary-syslog.example.com" port="10514"
            protocol="tcp")
     action(type="omfwd" target="secondary-1-syslog.example.com" port="10514"
            action.execOnlyWhenPreviousIsSuspended="on")
     action(type="omfwd" target="secondary-2-syslog.example.com" port="10514"
            action.execOnlyWhenPreviousIsSuspended="on")
     action(type="omfile" tag="failover" file="/var/log/localbuffer"
            action.execOnlyWhenPreviousIsSuspended="on")
}

if($msg contains "error") then {
     call forwarding
}

Please note that the example could also be rewritten in several other ways. To keep things simple, we just provide one of those.

See also

Help with configuring/using Rsyslog:

  • Mailing list - best route for general questions
  • GitHub: rsyslog source project - detailed questions, reporting issues that are believed to be bugs with Rsyslog
  • Stack Exchange (View, Ask) - experimental support from rsyslog community

See also

Contributing to Rsyslog:

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