Manpage of LOGROTATE


Section: Maintenance Commands (8)
Updated: Thu Aug 02 2001
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logrotate - rotates, compresses, and mails system logs  


logrotate [-dv] [-f|--force] [-s|--state statefile] config_file ..  


logrotate is designed to ease administration of systems that generate large numbers of log files. It allows automatic rotation, compression, removal, and mailing of log files. Each log file may be handled daily, weekly, monthly, or when it grows too large. Normally, logrotate is run as a daily cron job. It will not modify a log more than once in one day unless the criterion for that log is based on the log's size and logrotate is being run more than once each day, or unless the -f or --force option is used. Any number of config files may be given on the command line. Later config files may override the options given in earlier files, so the order in which the logrotate config files are listed is important. Normally, a single config file which includes any other config files which are needed should be used. See below for more information on how to use the include directive to accomplish this. If a directory is given on the command line, every file in that directory is used as a config file. If no command line arguments are given, logrotate will print version and copyright information, along with a short usage summary. If any errors occur while rotating logs, logrotate will exit with non-zero status.



Turns on debug mode and implies -v. In debug mode, no changes will be made to the logs or to the logrotate state file.

-f, --force
Tells logrotate to force the rotation, even if it doesn't think this is necessary. Sometimes this is useful after adding new entries to a logrotate config file, or if old log files have been removed by hand, as the new files will be created, and logging will continue correctly.

-s, --state statefile
Tells logrotate to use an alternate state file. This is useful if logrotate is being run as different users for various sets of log files. The default state file is /var/lib/logrotate/status.

Prints a short usage message.

-v, --verbose
Display messages during rotation.



logrotate reads everything about the log files it should be handling from the series of configuration files specified on the command line. Each configuration file can set global options (local definitions override global ones, and later definitions override earlier ones) and specify some logfiles to rotate. A simple configuration file looks like this:

# sample logrotate configuration file

/var/log/messages {
    rotate 5
        /sbin/killall -HUP syslogd

"/var/log/httpd/access.log" /var/log/httpd/error.log {
    rotate 5
        /sbin/killall -HUP httpd

/var/log/news/* {
    rotate 2
        kill -HUP `cat /var/run/`

The first few lines set global options; in the example, logs are compressed after they are rotated. Note that comments may appear anywhere in the config file as long as the first non-whitespace character on the line is a #.

The next section of the config file defines how to handle the log file /var/log/messages. The log will go through five weekly rotations before being removed. After the log file has been rotated (but before the old version of the log has been compressed), the command /sbin/killall -HUP syslogd will be executed.

The next section defines the parameters for both /var/log/httpd/access.log and /var/log/httpd/error.log. Each is rotated whenever it grows over 100k in size, and the old logs files are mailed (uncompressed) to after going through 5 rotations, rather then being removed. The sharedscripts means that the postrotate script will only be run once, not once for each log which is rotated. Note that log file names may be enclosed in quotes (and that quotes are required if the name contains spaces). Normal shell quoting rules apply, with ', ", and \ characters supported.

The last section defines the parameters for all of the files in /var/log/news. Each file is rotated on a monthly basis. This is considered a single rotation directive and if errors occur for more then one file, the log files are not compressed.

If the directory /var/log/news does not exist, this will cause logrotate to report an error. This error cannot be stopped with the missingok directive.

Here is more information on the directives which may be included in a logrotate configuration file:

Old versions of log files are compressed with gzip(1) by default. See also nocompress.

Specifies which command to use to compress log files. The default is gzip(1). See also compress.

Specifies which command to use to uncompress log files. The default is gunzip(1).

Specifies which extension to use on compressed logfiles, if compression is enabled. The default follows that of the configured compression command.

Command line options may be passed to the compression program, if one is in use. The default, for gzip, is "-9" (maximum compression).

Truncate the original log file to zero size in place after creating a copy, instead of moving the old log file and optionally creating a new one. It can be used when some program cannot be told to close its logfile and thus might continue writing (appending) to the previous log file forever. Note that there is a very small time slice between copying the file and truncating it, so some logging data might be lost. When this option is used, the create option will have no effect, as the old log file stays in place.

create mode owner group
Immediately after rotation (before the postrotate script is run) the log file is created (with the same name as the log file just rotated). mode specifies the mode for the log file in octal (the same as chmod(2)), owner specifies the user name who will own the log file, and group specifies the group the log file will belong to. Any of the log file attributes may be omitted, in which case those attributes for the new file will use the same values as the original log file for the omitted attributes. This option can be disabled using the nocreate option.

Log files are rotated every day.

Postpone compression of the previous log file to the next rotation cycle. This only has effect when used in combination with compress. It can be used when some program cannot be told to close its logfile and thus might continue writing to the previous log file for some time.

extension ext
Log files are given the final extension ext after rotation. If compression is used, the compression extension (normally .gz) appears after ext.

Rotate the log file even if it is empty, overriding the notifempty option (ifempty is the default).

include file_or_directory
Reads the file given as an argument as if it was included inline where the include directive appears. If a directory is given, most of the files in that directory are read before processing of the including file continues. The only files which are ignored are files which are not regular files (such as directories and named pipes) and files whose names end with one of the taboo extensions, as specified by the tabooext directive. The include directive may not appear inside a log file definition.

mail address
When a log is rotated out of existence, it is mailed to address. If no mail should be generated by a particular log, the nomail directive may be used.

When using the mail command, mail the just-rotated file, instead of the about-to-expire file.

When using the mail command, mail the about-to-expire file, instead of the just-rotated file (this is the default).

If the log file is missing, go on to the next one without issuing an error message. See also nomissingok.

Log files are rotated the first time logrotate is run in a month (this is normally on the first day of the month).

Old versions of log files are not compressed. See also compress.

Do not truncate the original log file in place after creating a copy (this overrides the copytruncate option).

New log files are not created (this overrides the create option).

Do not postpone compression of the previous log file to the next rotation cycle (this overrides the delaycompress option).

Do not mail old log files to any address.

If a log file does not exist, issue an error. This is the default.

Logs are rotated in the directory they normally reside in (this overrides the olddir option).

Run prerotate and postrotate scripts for every log that is rotated (this is the default, and overrides the sharedscripts option).

Do not rotate the log if it is empty (this overrides the ifempty option).

olddir directory
Logs are moved into directory for rotation. The directory must be on the same physical device as the log file being rotated. When this option is used all old versions of the log end up in directory. This option may be overridden by the noolddir option.

The lines between postrotate and endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed after the log file is rotated. These directives may only appear inside a log file definition. See also prerotate.

The lines between prerotate and endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed before the log file is rotated. These directives may only appear inside a log file definition. See also postrotate.

rotate count
Log files are rotated count times before being removed or mailed to the address specified in a mail directive. If count is 0, old versions are removed rather then rotated.

Normally, prerotate and postrotate scripts are run for each log which is rotated, meaning that a single script may be run multiple times for log file entries which match multiple files (such as the /var/log/news/* example). If sharedscript is specified, the scripts are only run once, no matter how many logs match the wildcarded pattern. A side effect of this option is that the scripts are always executed, even if no logs are rotated. If this directive is not specified, the scripts are run only if logs are actually rotated. This overrides the nosharedscripts option.

size size[M|k]
Log files are rotated when they grow bigger than size bytes. If size is followed by M, the size is assumed to be in megabytes. If k is used, the size is in kilobytes. So size 100, size 100k, and size 100M are all valid.

tabooext [+] list
The current taboo extension list is changed (see the include directive for information on the taboo extensions). If + precedes list, the current taboo extension list is augmented by list, otherwise it is replaced. At startup, the taboo extension list contains .rpmorig, .rpmsave, .dpkg-dist, .dpkg-old, .dpkg-new, .disabled, ,v, .swp, .rpmnew, and ~. The members of the list are separated by spaces, not commas.

Log files are rotated if the current weekday is less than the weekday of the last rotation or if more than a week has passed since the last rotation. This is normally the same as rotating logs on the first day of the week, but works better if logrotate is not run every night.



Default state file.
Configuration options.






The killall(1) program in Debian is found in the psmisc package.



Erik Troan <>
Preston Brown <>




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Time: 16:54:18 GMT, February 23, 2024