rsyslog: How can I see which field contains which data item?

A topic that comes up on the rsyslog mailing list or support forum very often is that folks do not know exactly which values are contained on which fields (or properties, like they are called in rsyslog, e.g. TAG, MSG and so on).

So I thought I write a quick block post on how to do that. I admit, I do this mostly to save me some time typing and having it at hand for reference in the future.

This is such a common case, that rsyslog contains a template which will output all fields. The basic idea is to use that template and write all message into a special file. A user can than look up that file, find the message in question, and see exactly which field/property is populated with which data.

It’s very easy to do. All you need to place this at the top of your rsyslog.conf:

*.* /var/log/debugfmt;RSYSLOG_DebugFormat

and restart rsyslog. After that, all messages will be written to /var/log/debugfmt. Note that each message is written to multiple lines, with each of its properties. This is a very rough example of how this may look:

Debug line with all properties:
FROMHOST: 'linux', fromhost-ip: '', HOSTNAME: 'linux', PRI: 46,
syslogtag 'rsyslogd:', programname: 'rsyslogd', APP-NAME: 'rsyslogd', PROCID: '-', MSGID: '-',
TIMESTAMP: 'Jun 10 18:56:18', STRUCTURED-DATA: '-',
msg: ' [origin software="rsyslogd" swVersion="7.4.0" x-pid="4800" x-info=""] start'
escaped msg: ' [origin software="rsyslogd" swVersion="7.4.0" x-pid="4800" x-info=""] start'
inputname: rsyslogd rawmsg: ' [origin software="rsyslogd" swVersion="7.4.0" x-pid="4800" x-info=""] start'

Note that I lied a bit: it’s not actually all properties, but the most important ones (among others, the JSON properties are missing, as this is a large amoutn of data – but I may add it in later versions).

If you know what to know what, for example, APP-NAME is, you can simply look it up (here it is “rsyslogd”).

Note that I have deliberately given this example in legacy configuration language, so that it can be used by all users of rsyslog. You can of course also make use of the more advanced versions.