Exploring 2 – journal

I have been reading through Lennart Poettering’s ever expanding up to the seventeenth installment of his ongoing series on systemd for Administrators without much to say here. Good stuff.

Number 17 is about the journal, which is basically a replacement for syslog. This answers my earlier question of how systemd displayed the log lines from httpd… the journal is hooked up by systemd to capture syslog and kernel log entries as well as stdout/stderr for any processes it manages. What I saw in the httpd status output there would be the stdout from starting httpd… the journal isn’t following the actual log files created by httpd (you’d need to configure httpd to log messages to syslog or journal).

The journal is really cool, though. It natively solves a lot of annoying things about system logs, mainly by attaching a ton of metadata to log entries, including automatic and unfakeable items like cgroup, pid, and executable. And then indexes by that and presents a nice filtering interface with the journalctl client (incidentally allowing users to access their own log entries). If we had this in OpenShift 2, we wouldn’t have needed a plugin for rsyslog7 to add these kinds of attributes to gear syslogs, and gears would not have needed to store their own logs at all since they could just access their own journal entries from the host with journalctl (although… I would need to check how access is controlled; if it’s by UID and not SELinux context then we would need to do something special because UIDs can be reused under OpenShift). I bet we’ll use this for v3.

One thing to note under RHEL 7… the default install doesn’t enable the persistent journal – all you have is whatever is stored in /run/log/journal since the last boot. However, it’s easy to enable the persistent journal by just creating /var/log/journal. At this point you can nuke rsyslog and just let the journal capture everything. Also, bash tab completion doesn’t seem to be set up for journalctl attributes as indicated in the blog (there’s probably a simple way to enable that too).

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