Syslog is generally configured to put all e-mail related log information into what file?

Syslog is a standard protocol for logging system events and messages. It allows applications and processes to send log messages to a central server, where they can be stored, filtered, analyzed, and forwarded to other destinations. Syslog is widely used in Linux and Unix systems for monitoring and troubleshooting purposes.

One of the common uses of syslog is to collect and store e-mail related log information, such as the status of incoming and outgoing messages, errors, warnings, and statistics. E-mail related log information can be generated by various components of the e-mail system, such as sendmail, postfix, exim, dovecot, spamassassin, etc.

How does syslog work?

Syslog works by using a client-server model. The client is the application or process that generates the log messages and sends them to the syslog server. The server is the program that receives the log messages and processes them according to a configuration file. The configuration file defines the rules for filtering, formatting, and forwarding the log messages to different destinations, such as files, databases, remote servers, or e-mail addresses.

The syslog protocol uses a standard format for the log messages, which consists of three parts: priority, facility, and message. The priority indicates the severity level of the message, ranging from 0 (emergency) to 7 (debug). The facility indicates the source or category of the message, such as mail, auth, kern, user, etc. The message is the actual text of the log entry.

For example, a typical syslog message might look like this:

`<14>Oct 30 16:13:49 mailserver postfix/smtp[1234]: 1234567890: to=<>,[]:25, delay=0.5, delays=0.1/0/0.2/0.2, dsn=2.0.0, status=sent (250 OK)`

This message has a priority of 14 (notice), a facility of mail (e-mail related), and a message that contains the timestamp, hostname, program name, process ID, queue ID, recipient address, relay host, delay times, delivery status notification code, status text, and response text.

How to configure syslog to store e-mail related log information?

The configuration of syslog depends on the implementation of the syslog server program. There are several variants of syslog servers available for Linux and Unix systems, such as syslogd (the original and most basic), rsyslog (the default in most modern distributions), syslog-ng (a more advanced and flexible option), etc.

Each syslog server has its own configuration file format and syntax, but they all share some common concepts and principles. The configuration file usually consists of rules that match certain criteria (such as priority or facility) with certain actions (such as writing to a file or sending to a remote server). The rules are evaluated from top to bottom until a match is found or the end of the file is reached.

One of the most common actions is to write the log messages to a plain text file in a specified directory. By convention, this directory is /var/log/, where various log files are stored for different purposes and programs. For example,

– /var/log/messages: contains general system messages

– /var/log/auth.log: contains authentication and authorization messages

– /var/log/kern.log: contains kernel messages

– /var/log/cron.log: contains cron job messages

– /var/log/mail.log: contains e-mail related messages

The last one is the answer to our question: syslog is generally configured to put all e-mail related log information into /var/log/mail.log file.

However, this is not a fixed rule or standard. Depending on the configuration of the syslog server and the preferences of the system administrator or user, e-mail related log information can be stored in different files or locations. For example,

– Some syslog servers allow using wildcards or regular expressions to match multiple facilities or priorities with one action. For example,

`mail.* /var/log/mail.log`

This rule means that any message with a facility of mail (regardless of priority) will be written to /var/log/mail.log file.

– Some syslog servers allow using templates or macros to customize the format or name of the log files. For example,

`mail.* /var/log/mail/$ {programname}.log`

This rule means that any message with a facility of mail will be written to a file named after the program name (such as postfix.log or exim.log) in /var/log/mail/ directory.

– Some syslog servers allow using filters or expressions to select or exclude certain messages based on their content or attributes. For example,

`mail.*; ~`

This rule means that any message with a facility of mail, except those with a priority of info, will be discarded and not written to any file.

How to check the e-mail related log information?

Once the syslog server is configured to store the e-mail related log information in a file or files, the next step is to check the content and analyze the data. There are several ways to do this, such as:

– Using a text editor or viewer to open and read the log file. For example,

`nano /var/log/mail.log`

This command will open the /var/log/mail.log file in nano editor, where you can scroll, search, edit, or save the file.

– Using a command-line tool or utility to filter, sort, or process the log file. For example,

`tail -f /var/log/mail.log`

This command will display the last 10 lines of /var/log/mail.log file and keep updating as new messages arrive.

`grep “error” /var/log/mail.log`

This command will display only the lines that contain the word “error” in /var/log/mail.log file.

`awk ‘{print $6}’ /var/log/mail.log | sort | uniq -c`

This command will display the number of occurrences of each program name in /var/log/mail.log file.

– Using a graphical tool or application to visualize, monitor, or manage the log file. For example,

Logwatch: a customizable log analysis system that generates reports based on the log files.

LogAnalyzer: a web-based interface that allows browsing, searching, filtering, and analyzing the log files.

Splunk: a powerful platform that collects, indexes, analyzes, and visualizes any kind of machine data, including syslog data.


In this article, we have learned what syslog is, how it works, how to configure it to store e-mail related log information into a file, and how to check and analyze the log information. We have also seen some examples of different syslog servers and tools that can be used for this purpose. We hope this article has been helpful and informative for you. Thank you for reading!

Doms Desk

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