Export SystemD Logs to ElasticSearch

posted a year ago

If you're using elastic to handle log aggregation and systemd to manage processes, there's a quick way to export logs using journalbeat.

Install Journal Beat

Check the journalbeat install guide. At the time of writing, you can curl and dpkg the latest release for debian. It installs a unit file for systemd so reload the deamon.

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Edit YAML File

The minimum viable config is to update the inputs and outputs.

# /etc/journalbeat/journalbeat.yml

  - paths:
      - "/run/log/journal"
      - "systemd.unit=app.service"

    - "elastic.host:9200"

Breaking it down:

  • Check where systemd stores journal files. In my case for debian it was the /run/log/journal directory. It could be a different directory for different operating systems.

  • Change app.service to the name of your systemd unit file. It won't work if you omit the .service extension like "systemd.unit=app" it has to be the full "systemd.unit=app.service".

  • Change elastic.host:9200 to your actual ElasticSearch host.

Check the journalbeat service logs. If you don't pipe the output through a pager like less it will not wrap lines and all you see is the timestamp and the start of the log message.

journalctl -u journalbeat -xn | less

It should tell you when it pushes logs to elastic.

INFO        [input]        input/input.go:135        journalbeat successfully published 4 events        {"id": "86667999-0253-4496-b488-d4451bed529e"}


In the Kibana dashboard include the index pattern journalbeat-*. It automatically includes a ton of metadata but you can pick what is helpful to display in the Kibana index settings.