String Constants

String constants are necessary in any scripting language. They provide values that are evaluated at startup and never change during rsyslog’s run.


String constants are necessary in many places: comparisons, configuration parameter values and function arguments, to name a few important ones.

In string constants, special characters are escaped by prepending a backslash in front of them – just in the same way this is done in the C programming language or PHP.

If in doubt how to properly escape, use the RainerScript String Escape Online Tool.


Rsyslog provides different types of string constants, closely inspired by the shell:

  • single quotes

    Values are used unaltered, except for escape sequences, which are escaped.

  • double quotes

    Right now, equivalent to single quotes, but $ signs need to be escaped. If not escaped, a syntax error will be generated and rsyslog startup be aborted in most cases. The idea is to support environment variables just like the shell does in later releases.

  • backticks

    This was added in 8.33.0. The idea is to provide a useful subset of what the shell does. Right now, only the following is supported:

    • echo $VARNAME - It will evaluate the environment variable and use it as string constant. If the variable is not found, an empty string is generated (this is not an error).

      Starting with 8.37.0, the echo case has been enhanced. It is now more along the lines of what bash does. It supports multiple environment variable expansions as well as constant text between them.

      An example:

      • env SOMEPATH is set to “/var/log/custompath”

      • config is: param=echo $SOMEPATH/myfile

      • param than is expanded to “/var/log/custompath/myfile”

      Note, however, that some common bash features are not supported. Most importantly, ${VAR} does not work. Also, environment variables are only terminated by whitespace or /. Neither are things like $(pwd) supported. The idea of this parameter is not to provide a full-blown bash-equivalent, but provide some functionality that is usually considered useful for customizing rsyslog configuration with outside data. That said, we are still interested in extending the coverage if clear need and reasoning is provided.

    • cat filename - It will evaluate to the content of the given file. Only a single file name is supported. If the file is not readable, it will evaluate to an empty string.

    Any other construct will currently lead to an error message. Note that there must be exactly one space between “echo” or “cat” and the other parameter.

    Backticks are especially useful for configuration files that are auto-generated but need to contain a small set of special functionality.

    For an example of this in action, have a look at the rsyslog docker appliance available at

See also

Help with configuring/using Rsyslog:

See also

Contributing to Rsyslog:

Copyright 2008-2023 Rainer Gerhards (Großrinderfeld), and Others.