Sending messages with tags larger than 32 characters

The relevant syslog RFCs 3164 and 5424 limit the syslog tag to 32 characters max. Messages with larger tag length are malformed and may be discarded by receivers. Anyhow, some folks sometimes need to send tags longer than permitted.

To do so, a new template must be created and used when sending. The simplest way is to start with the standard forwarding template. The standard templates are hardcoded inside rsyslog. Thus they do not show up in your configuration file (but you can obtain them from the source, of course). In 5.8.6, the forwarding template is defined as follows:

template (name="ForwardFormat" type="string" string="<%PRI%>%TIMESTAMP:::date-rfc3339% %HOSTNAME%

NOTE: all templates are on one line in rsyslog.conf. They are broken here for readability.

This template is RFC-compliant. Now look at the part in red. It specifies the tag. Note that, via the property replacer, it is restricted to 32 characters (from position 1 to position 32 inclusive). This is what you need to change. To remove the limit … just remove it ;-) This leads to a template like this:

template (name="LongTagForwardFormat" type="string" string="<%PRI%>%TIMESTAMP:::date-rfc3339% %HOSTNAME%

Note that I have renamed the template in order to avoid conflicts with build-in templates. As it is a custom template, it is not hardcoded, so you need to actually configure it in your rsyslog.conf. Then, you need to use that template if you want to send messages to a remote host. This can be done via the usual way. Let’s assume you use legacy plain TCP syslog. Then the line looks as follows:


This will bind the forwarding action to the newly defined template. Now tags of any size will be forwarded. Please keep in mind that receivers may have problems with large tags and may truncate them or drop the whole message. So check twice that the receiver handles long tags well.

Rsyslog supports tags to a build-defined maximum. The current (5.8.6) default is 511 characters, but this may be different if you install from a package, use a newer version of rsyslog or use sources obtained from someone else. So double-check.

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