~jpetazzo/Multiple Docker containers logging to a single syslog

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This is a simple recipe showing how to run syslog in one container, and then send the syslog messages of multiple other containers to that one.

The Dockerfile and basic instructions are available on a tiny GitHub repo: https://github.com/jpetazzo/syslogdocker.

The concept is very simple.

First, we build a container with the following characteristics:

Here is a Dockerfile for such a container.

Then, we start that container; but we use an explicit host bind-mount, e.g.:

docker run --name syslog -d -v /tmp/syslogdev:/dev syslog

Why the explicit host bind-mount? Because that container will create /dev/log when rsyslog starts, and we want to “pick up” that socket and bind-mount it in our future containers, without having to bind-mount the whole /dev. If we just use --volumes-from, we will pick up the whole /dev. It won’t have a big impact for now, but if later we do fancy stuff (like adding custom devices) it could mess things up, so let’s be fine-grained.

Later versions of Docker might allow fine-grained --volumes-from, which will be even better.

Then we can start any container, bind-mounting the /dev/log into it:

docker run -v /tmp/syslogdev/log:/dev/log myimage somecommand

For an educational example, you can do this:

docker run -v /tmp/syslogdev/log:/dev/log ubuntu logger hello

That’s it! That container will send log messages to /dev/log, which will actually be the socket created by rsyslogd.

You can see the logs by running another container with --volumes-from syslog and checking the files in /var/log.

For bonus points, you can try to see what happens when you use journald or something that tries to be container-aware :-)

This work by Jérôme Petazzoni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.