Systemd Journal Support

Systemd Journal Support

One of the newer features in oslo.log is the ability to integrate with the systemd journal service (journald) natively on newer Linux systems. When using native journald support, additional metadata will be logged on each log message in addition to the message itself, which can later be used to do some interesting searching through your logs.


In order to enable the support you must have Python bindings for systemd installed. On Red Hat based systems, run:

yum install systemd-python

On Ubuntu/Debian based systems, run:

apt install python-systemd

If there is no native package for your distribution, or you are running in a virtualenv, you can install with pip.:

pip install systemd-python


There are also many non official systemd python modules on pypi, with confusingly close names. Make sure you install systemd-python.

After the package is installed, you must enable journald support manually in all services that will be using it. Add the following to the config files for all services:

use_journal = True

In all relevant config files.

Extra Metadata

Journald supports the concept of adding structured metadata in addition to the log message in question. This makes it much easier to take the output of journald and push it into other logging systems like Elastic Search, without needing to regex guess relevant data. It also allows you to search the journal by these fields using journalctl.

We use this facility to add our own structured information, if it is known at the time of logging the message.


The code location generating this message, if known. Contains the source filename, the line number and the function name. (This is the same as systemd uses)


Information about the thread and process, if known. (This is the same as systemd uses)


Information about an exception, if an exception has been logged.


The name of the python logger that emitted the log message. Very often this is the module where the log message was emitted from.


The name of the python logging level, which allows seeing all ‘ERROR’ messages very easily without remembering how they are translated to syslog priorities.


The binary name identified for syslog compatibility. It will be the basename of the process that emits the log messages (e.g. nova-api, neutron-l3-agent)


The syslog priority (based on LOGGER_LEVEL), which allows syslog style filtering of messages based on their priority (an openstack.err log file for instance).


Most OpenStack services generate a unique request-id on every REST API call, which is then passed between it’s sub services as that request is handled. For example, this can be very useful in tracking the build of a nova server from the initial HTTP POST to final VM create.


The keystone known user and project information about the requestor. Both the id and name are provided for easier searching. This can be used to understand when particular users or projects are reporting issues in the environment.

Additional fields may be added over time. It is unlikely that fields will be removed, but if so they will be deprecated for one release cycle before that happens.

Using Journalctl

Because systemd is relatively new in the Linux ecosystem, it’s worth noting how one can effectively use journal control.

If you want to follow all the journal logs you would do so with:

journalctl -f

That’s going to be nearly everything on your system, which you will probably find overwhelming. You can limit this to a smaller number of things using the SYSLOG_IDENTIFIER=:

journalctl -f SYSLOG_IDENTIFIER=nova-compute SYSLOG_IDENTIFIER=neutron-l3-agent

Specifying a query parameter multiple times defaults to an OR operation, so that will show either nova-compute or neutron-l3-agent logs.

You can also query by request id to see the entire flow of a REST call:

journalctl REQUEST_ID=req-b1903300-77a8-401d-984c-8e7d17e4a15f


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