Monday, October 27, 2008

New rsyslog HUP processing

There has been some discussions about rsyslog HUP processing. Traditionally, SIGHUP is used to signal the syslogd to a) close its files and b) reload its config. Rsyslog carried over this behavior from sysklogd.

However, rsyslog is much more capable than sysklogd. Among others, it is able to buffer messages that were received, but could not yet be processed. To remain compatible to the sysklogd of doing HUP, rsyslogd does a full daemon restart when it is HUPed. Among others, that means that messages from the queue are discarded, at least if the queue is configured with default settings. David Lang correctly stated that this may surprise some, if not most users. While I am still of the view that discarding the queue, under these circumstances, is the right thing to do, I agree it may be surprising (I added a hint to the man pages recently to reduce the level of surprise).

Still, there is no real need to do a full daemon restart in most cases. The typical HUP case is when logrotation wants to rotate files away and it needs to tell rsyslogd to close them. Actually, I asked if anybody knew any script that HUPs rsyslog to do a full config reload. The outcome was that nobody knew. However, some people liked to stick with the old semantics, and there may be reason to do so.

I have now implemented a lightweight HUP to address this issue. It is triggered via a new configuration directive, $HUPisRestart. If set to "on", rsyslogd will work as usual and do a (very, very expensive) full restart. This is the default to keep folks happy that want to keep things as backwards-compatible as possible. Still, I guess most folks will set it to "off", which is the new non-restart mode. In it, only output files are closed. Actually, the output plugin receive a HUP notification and can do whatever it likes. Currently, onle omfile acts on that and closes any open files. I can envision that other outputs, e.g. omfwd, can also be configured to do some light HUP action (for example close outbound connections).

The administrator needs to select either mode for the system. I think this is no issue at all and it safes me the trouble to define multiple signals just to do different types of HUP. My suggestion obviously is to use the new lightweight HUP for file closing, which means you need not to change anything for logrotate et al. Then, when you need to do a config reload, do a "real" restart by issuing a command like "/etc/init.d/rsyslogd restart". And if there really exists a script that requires a config-reload HUP, that should be changed accordingly.
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