Oct 082012

It’s one of the dumbest things you can ever get called out in the middle of the night for – because a filesystem has filled up because of a log file. Dumb, because it’s preventable and because you shouldn’t be the one doing housework. It’s a computer – its whole purpose is to do the work for you.

The logrotate script was created to monitor, archive and delete log files so you don’t have to. It is an absolutely vital utility with which, in theory, a Linux host could run literally forever without maintenance. It’s installed in the base bundle on all major versions of Linux.

The key things you need to know is that the logrotate process is called by the cron daemon, with the wrapper script located at:


And each logfile (or set of logfiles) which is to be monitored and archived has its own logrotate configuration file under:


Every time the logrotate program is executed by cron, it checks every monitored logfile against the conditions in the logrotate.d configuration, and then copies it aside, with a number added as an extension, while resetting the original logfile size to zero.
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Matt Parsons is a freelance Linux specialist who has designed, built and supported Unix and Linux systems in the finance, telecommunications and media industries.

He lives and works in London.