Tail Files

The tail input plugin allows to monitor one or several text files. It have a similar behavior to tail -f shell command.

The plugin reads every matched file in the Path pattern and for every new line found (separated by a \n), it generate a new record. Optionally a database file can be used so the plugin can have a history of tracked files and a state of offsets, this is very useful to resume a state if the service is restarted.

Content:

Configuration Parameters

The plugin supports the following configuration parameters:

Key Description Default
Buffer_Chunk_Size Set the initial buffer size to read files data. This value is used too to increase buffer size. The value must be according to the Unit Size specification. 32k
Buffer_Max_Size Set the limit of the buffer size per monitored file. When a buffer needs to be increased (e.g: very long lines), this value is used to restrict how much the memory buffer can grow. If reading a file exceed this limit, the file is removed from the monitored file list. The value must be according to the Unit Size specification. Buffer_Chunk_Size
Path Pattern specifying a specific log files or multiple ones through the use of common wildcards.
Path_Key If enabled, it appends the name of the monitored file as part of the record. The value assigned becomes the key in the map.
Exclude_Path Set one or multiple shell patterns separated by commas to exclude files matching a certain criteria, e.g: exclude_path=*.gz,*.zip
Refresh_Interval The interval of refreshing the list of watched files. Default is 60 seconds.
Rotate_Wait Specify the number of extra seconds to monitor a file once is rotated in case some pending data is flushed. Default is 5 seconds.
Skip_Long_Lines When a monitored file reach it buffer capacity due to a very long line (Buffer_Max_Size), the default behavior is to stop monitoring that file. Skip_Long_Lines alter that behavior and instruct Fluent Bit to skip long lines and continue processing other lines that fits into the buffer size. Off
DB Specify the database file to keep track of monitored files and offsets.
Mem_Buf_Limit Set a limit of memory that Tail plugin can use when appending data to the Engine. If the limit is reach, it will be paused; when the data is flushed it resumes.
Parser Specify the name of a parser to interpret the entry as a structured message.
Key When a message is unstructured (no parser applied), it's appended as a string under the key name log. This option allows to define an alternative name for that key. log

Note that if the database parameter db is not specified, by default the plugin will start reading each target file from the beginning.

Multiline Configuration Parameters

Additionally the following options exists to configure the handling of multi-lines files:

Key Description Default
Multiline If enabled, the plugin will try to discover multiline messages and use the proper parsers to compose the outgoing messages. Note that when this option is enabled the Parser option is not used. Off
Multiline_Flush Wait period time in seconds to process queued multiline messages 4
Parser_Firstline Name of the parser that matchs the beginning of a multiline message.
Parser_N Optional-extra parser to interpret and structure multiline entries. This option can be used to define multiple parsers, e.g: Parser_1 ab1, Parser_2 ab2, Parser_N abN.

Getting Started

In order to tail text or log files, you can run the plugin from the command line or through the configuration file:

Command Line

From the command line you can let Fluent Bit parse text files with the following options:

$ fluent-bit -i tail -p path=/var/log/syslog -o stdout

Configuration File

In your main configuration file append the following Input & Output sections:

[INPUT]
    Name        tail
    Path        /var/log/syslog

[OUTPUT]
    Name   stdout
    Match  *

Tailing files keeping state

The tail input plugin a feature to save the state of the tracked files, is strongly suggested you enabled this. For this purpose the db property is available, e.g:

$ fluent-bit -i tail -p path=/var/log/syslog -p db=/path/to/logs.db -o stdout

When running, the database file /path/to/logs.db will be created, this database is backed by SQLite3 so if you are interested into explore the content, you can open it with the SQLite client tool, e.g:

$ sqlite3 tail.db
-- Loading resources from /home/edsiper/.sqliterc

SQLite version 3.14.1 2016-08-11 18:53:32
Enter ".help" for usage hints.
sqlite> SELECT * FROM in_tail_files;
id     name                              offset        inode         created
-----  --------------------------------  ------------  ------------  ----------
1      /var/log/syslog                   73453145      23462108      1480371857
sqlite>

Make sure to explore when Fluent Bit is not hard working on the database file, otherwise you will see some Error: database is locked messages.

Formatting SQLite

By default SQLite client tool do not format the columns in a human read-way, so to explore in_tail_files table you can create a config file in ~/.sqliterc with the following content:

.headers on
.mode column
.width 5 32 12 12 10

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