just a jot

A semi-whenever series of short articles

Creating and rotating log files from piped input

2015-04-06 development

Say you have an application that sends logs to STDOUT and you want to capture that stream, log it to a file and rotate the files based on time and/or size. rotatelogs is a small utility bundled with Apache’s HTTPD that can do it for you.

I wrote a small sample program as a test, one that outputs a bunch of Lorem ipsum text to STDOUT (lorem):

package main

import (


func main() {
	for {
		fmt.Println(lorem.Paragraph(3, 8))
		time.Sleep(time.Duration(rand.Intn(1000)) * time.Millisecond)

This prints a Lorem ipsum paragraph between 3 and 8 sentences once every (pseudo) random 0 to 1000 milliseconds.

Once built, you can do this:

$ lorem | rotatelogs -l "lorem-%Y%m%d-%H%M%S.log" 86400 5M

This sends the output of lorem to a date/time based log file like lorem-20150406-120400.log and rotates the log every night at midnight and/or after the content reaches 5 megabytes in size.

The rotatelogs manfile includes other useful examples I recommend reading through.