Change systemd’s binary logging to text logging in Sabayon Linux

systemd logs system messages in a binary file which the developers call a ‘journal’. However, if you would prefer system messages to be logged in a text file, here is how to do it for Sabayon Linux. The steps will probably be similar in other distributions.

1. See what log files currently exist in your installation:

# ls /var/log
anaconda btmp cups faillog kdm.log mysql portage sandbox tallylog Xorg.0.log
boot.log chrony entropy journal lastlog news samba spice-vdagentd wtmp Xorg.0.log.old

Notice that the traditional text log file /var/log/messages is not present. The systemd binary log files are in a sub-directory of /var/log/journal/:

# ls /var/log/journal
5d387e19d28644c5b24f06f8bc6e9b9c
# ls /var/log/journal/5d387e19d28644c5b24f06f8bc6e9b9c
system.journal user-1000.journal

2. Edit the file /etc/systemd/journald.conf and change #Storage=auto to Storage=none

# nano /etc/systemd/journald.conf

3. Install the system logger syslog-ng:

# equo install syslog-ng

If it’s not already installed, install the logrotate package:

# equo install logrotate

4. Enable the service so that it starts the next time you boot:

# systemctl enable syslog-ng.service
ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/syslog-ng.service' '/etc/systemd/system/syslog.service'
ln -s '/usr/lib/systemd/system/syslog-ng.service' '/etc/systemd/system/multi-user.target.wants/syslog-ng.service'

5. Start the service now:

# systemctl start syslog-ng.service

6. Check if the text log file /var/log/messages has been created:

# ls /var/log
anaconda btmp cups faillog kdm.log messages news samba spice-vdagentd wtmp Xorg.0.log.old
boot.log chrony entropy journal lastlog mysql portage sandbox tallylog Xorg.0.log

If you now reboot you’ll see that the text file /var/log/messages is being used to log system messages, and you can view it easily using commands such as cat, more, less, nano or whatever, and search through it using grep etc. Note that the systemd journal service is still running; it is just not logging to a binary file any more and is forwarding system messages to syslog-ng.

About Fitzcarraldo
A Linux user with an interest in all things technical.

4 Responses to Change systemd’s binary logging to text logging in Sabayon Linux

  1. Pingback: Bodhi Lives, Jessie Hints, and openSUSE Beta | PHP World

  2. Harry Seldon says:

    Is it forwarding all events? Does it still need a qr code lib? And a http server for logging?
    The answers to these questions please…

  3. dheeraj says:

    hi ,
    is there any way to copy the binary files to pc and then convert then to text file

    please help me

    • Fitzcarraldo says:

      Just redirect the output of the journalctl command to a text file, like so:

      # journalctl > journal.txt

      You can use any of the journalctl options to refine your text file. For example, if you wanted to see only the journal messages for the current boot:

      # journalctl -b > journal-b.txt

      Or if you just wanted to see the kernel messages in the journal:

      # journalctl -k > journal-k.txt

      And so on. See the journalctl man page for all the options:

      http://www.freedesktop.org/software/systemd/man/journalctl.html

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