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From https://github.com/logrotate/logrotate:

The logrotate utility is designed to simplify the administration of log files on a system which generates a lot of log files. Logrotate allows for the automatic rotation compression, removal and mailing of log files. Logrotate can be set to handle a log file daily, weekly, monthly or when the log file gets to a certain size.

By default, logrotate's rotation consists of renaming existing log files with a numerical suffix, then recreating the original empty log file. For example, /var/log/syslog.log is renamed /var/log/syslog.log.1. If /var/log/syslog.log.1 already exists from a previous rotation, it is first renamed /var/log/syslog.log.2. (The number of backlogs to keep can be configured.)


Logrotate can be installed with the logrotate package.

By default, logrotate runs daily using a systemd timer: logrotate.timer.


The primary configuration file for logrotate which sets default parameters is /etc/logrotate.conf; additional application-specific configuration files are included from the /etc/logrotate.d directory. Values set in application-specific configuration files override those same parameters in the primary configuration file. See logrotate.conf(5) for configuration examples and a reference of available directives.

To verify if logrotate works correctly, run it in debug mode, in this mode it does nothing except producing debug output:

logrotate --debug /etc/logrotate.conf

Compressing logs

Logrotate can compress logs with a custom command like zstd.

compresscmd /usr/bin/zstd
compressext .zst
compressoptions -T0 --long
uncompresscmd /usr/bin/unzstd

See logrotate.conf(5) and zstd(1) for more details.


logrotate is usually run through the systemd service: logrotate.service.

To run logrotate manually:

logrotate /etc/logrotate.conf

To rotate a single log file:

logrotate /etc/logrotate.d/mylog

To simulate running your configuration file (dry run):

logrotate --debug /etc/logrotate.d/mylog

To force running rotations even when conditions are not met, run:

logrotate -vf /etc/logrotate.d/mylog

See logrotate(8) for more details.


exim log not rotated

If you have set the olddir variable in /etc/logrotate.conf, you will get a message such as:

error: failed to rename /var/log/exim/mainlog to /var/log/old/mainlog.1: Permission denied

To fix this, add the user exim to the group log. Then change the group of the olddir, usually /var/log/old, to log instead of the default root.

Check logrotate status

Logrotate rotations are usually logged to /var/lib/logrotate.status (the -s option allows you to specify another state file):

"/var/log/mysql/query.log" 2016-3-20-5:0:0
"/var/log/samba/samba-smbd.log" 2016-3-21-5:0:0
"/var/log/httpd/access_log" 2016-3-20-5:0:0

Skipping log because parent directory has insecure permission

Set in the config which user and which group has to job /etc/logrotate.d/job to be run with:

file-to-be-rotated {
    su user group
    rotate 4

See also