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syslog-ng vs. systemd’s journald

April 30th, 2018 by

This blog is part of a series of technical blogs leading up to the release of openSUSE Leap 15. All of the blogs provide a use case regarding openSUSE Leap and the packages available in the distribution. Happy reading.


Authored by Peter Czanik

People often ask me what to use: systemd’s journald or syslog-ng? The quick answer is that most likely both, but it depends on how you use your computer(s). If you have a single standalone machine, journald is probably enough. There is even a nice desktop application to view the logs in the journal. But once you have multiple machines to manage, using syslog-ng has many advantages.

Even if you use syslog-ng, local system logs are collected by journald. It is an integral part of systemd and cannot be uninstalled. Luckily, syslog-ng can read log messages from the journal. If journald stores additional name-value pairs about an event, syslog-ng can read those as well.

So, why install syslog-ng? The short answer is: central logging.

Why is the central collection of logs such a big deal? One reason is ease of use, as central logging creates a single place to check logs instead of tens or thousands of devices. Another reason is availability – you can check a device’s log messages even if the device itself is unavailable for any reason. A third reason is security; when your device is hacked, checking the logs can uncover traces of the hack.

journald also has some central logging capabilities, but syslog-ng provides a lot more features and better performance:

  • journald was originally designed for local logs on desktops – where there are not that many logs. On the other hand, syslog-ng was designed for high-performance central log collection from the ground up.
  • syslog-ng can collect logs from many more sources, including pipes, sockets, and files. File sources are especially important, as many applications – like web servers – log to files and do that at a rate that journald cannot handle.
  • syslog-ng does more than simple log storage. It can process log messages in many ways: parse them to create name-value pairs for easier alerting and reporting, enrich them with geographical information (GeoIP), rewrite them for anonymization (see PCI-DSS or GDPR), or reformat them according to the requirements of the destination.
  • Filtering in syslog-ng makes very precise log routing possible, ensuring that all logs reach the right destination.
  • Speaking of destinations: there are many possibilities for storing log messages, not just flat files or other syslog servers as it was the case many years ago. For example, you can store logs in SQL databases, send logs to Splunk for further analysis using HTTP, store name-value pairs parsed from logs in MongoDB, or send an email alert using the SMTP destination.


Tumbleweed Gets New Mesa, KDE Frameworks, GNOME Packages

April 26th, 2018 by

A total of four openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots were released this week that brought new updates for the Linux Kernel, Mesa and a major version update of libglvnd.

RADV received several fixes in snapshot 20180424 with the update to Mesa 18.0.1. Mesa core also had some patches to fix issues around overriding the OpenGL/ES supported version through environment variables, and a patch to fix an issue with texture samples found in “The Witness” through Wine. An updated description for the SSLProtocol option was made available with the apache2 2.4.33 package and apparmor 2.13 delivered a change of the (writeable) cache directory to /var/cache/apparmor/ with the new btrfs layout. The reason for using /var/lib/apparmor/cache/, which was “it’s part of the / subvolume”, is gone, and /var/cache makes more sense for the cache, according to the changelog. The cleanup process and behavior are a lot better with the update of ccache 3.4.2. Backup tool deja-dup 38.0 was a major update and exclude snap cache directories by default. GTK has a new ‘Widgetbowl‘ demo and the wayland backend now supports the stable xdg-shell protocol in gtk3 3.22.30. Linux Kernel 4.16.3 arrived in the snapshot and the GL Vendor-Neutral Dispatch library, libglvnd, was bumped to major version 1.0.0 thanks to EGL and GLX interfaces being defined and stable. The Tumbleweed rating tool is currently treading the snapshot as stable with an 88 rating.

Snapshot 20180420 is also treading at an 88 rating. The snapshot added btrfsprogs 4.16, which added the new LGPL library libbtrfsutil packages to wrap userspace functionality. KDE users will notice new features for the kmediaplayer package with Frameworks 5.45.0. Poppler 0.63.0, which is the utility library for rendering PDFs, had multiple fixes to include a fix for a new Object Application Programming Interface porting bug. The autocompletion and static analysis library for python, python-jedi 0.12.0, removes Python 2.6 support and provides better namespace completion.


Krita, Linux Kernel, KDEConnect Get Updated in Tumbleweed

April 20th, 2018 by

There have been a few openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots released in the past two weeks that brought some new features and fixes to users.

This blog will go over the past two snapshots.

The last snapshot, 20180416, had several packages updated. The adobe-sourceserifpro-fonts package updated to version 2.000; with the change, the fonts were refined to make the Semibold and Bold heavier. Both dbus-1 and dbus-1-x11 were updated to 1.12.6, which fixed some regreations introduced in version 1.10.18 and 1.11.0. The gtk-vnc 0.7.2 package deprecated the manual python2 binding, which will be deleted in the next release, in favor of GObject introspection. Notifications that caused a crash were fixed in kdeconnect-kde 1.3.0. The 4.16.2 Linux Kernel made ip_tunnel, ipv6, ip6_gre, ip6_tunnel and vti6 better to validate user provided tunnel names. Due to a build system failure, not all 4.16.2 binaries were built correctly; this will be resolved in the 20180417 snapshot, which will be released shortly. Krita 4.0.1 had multiple fixes from its major version upgrade. The visual diff and merge tool meld 3.19.0 added new features like a new per-pane status bar with selectors for syntax highlighting and text encoding. Python Imaging Library python-Pillow 5.1.0 removed the freetype-2.9.patch and YaST had several packages with a version bump.

Snapshot 20180410 had less than a handful of packages updated. The Advanced Linux Sound Architecture package, alsa ,1.1.6 removed unused macros and added support for python3 and alsa-utils 1.1.6 removed some obsolete patches. GNU Compiler Collection 7 enabled a fix for aarch64 and the communication package rzsz had rebase patches with its release candidate in the 0.12.21 version.

The Tumbleweed rating tool is currently trending the past few snapshots as unstable, but the last snapshots rating is posting a false negative due to comments made on the openSUSE Factory Mailing thread about the 4.16.2 Linux Kernel.

Tumbleweed Starts Week with Plasma, DigiKam Updates

April 6th, 2018 by

KDE‘s newest point version of Plasma 5.12.4 was released in the first of five openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots that were released this week.

The  most recent snapshot was 20180403 and it included several updates for gstreamer 1.12.5 packages. Multiple bugs were fixed for gstreamer-editing-services, gstreamer-plugins-libav and gstreamer-validate. The gstreamer-rtsp-server package update to 1.12.5 had to drop the pkgconfig(libcgroup) because of a clash with systemd that causes bug reports. The Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, openldap2 version 2.4.46, fixed a Transport Layer Security connection timeout and removed obsolete back-port patches. The python-cryptography package update from version 2.1.4 to 2.2.1 and allows for the loading of Digital Signature Algorithm Keys with 224 bit q size. The snapshot is currently trending at 91 rating on the rating tool.

The 1.12.5 gstreamer package arrived in snapshot 20180402. The new gstreamer package, which constructs the graphs of media-handling components, fixes the handling of encoded silence, the tagging of keyframes on output buffers and updates the internal copy to ffmpeg 3.3.6. The Generic Graphics Library gegl 0.3.30 now has a build requirement of GIMP 2.10.0 and had some complex changes in the NEWS file.

Snapshot 20180401 added Application Programming Interface support for Microsoft’s .NET 4.7.1 with the update of the mono-core package to version 5.8.1, and snapshot 20180331 update Mozilla Firefox to version 59.0.2. The new version of Firefox fixed more than a handful of bugs, added a couple patches and Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures CVE-2018-5148.


Tumbleweed Now Has Ratings for Snapshots

March 29th, 2018 by

Major Krita Release Arrives in Tumbleweed

openSUSE’s rolling distribution Tumbleweed produces high-quality snapshots and a new rating tool for the snapshots has labeled two out of the last four snapshots as stable.

The past two snapshots are still pending a rating as it takes about a week after the snapshot release to develop a rating. This blog will cover the last two snapshots that are pending and list some of the new software that arrived in the snapshots.

The most recent snapshot, 20180326, had several new packages including python-packaging 17.1 and python-setuptools 39.0.1. The  python-packaging 17.1 dropped support for python 2.6, 3.2, and 3.3. The update version python-setuptools from 38.5.2 to 39.0.1 now vendors its own direct dependencies and no longer relies on the dependencies as vendored by pkg_resources. The C library for reading, creating, and modifying zip archive, libzip 1.5.0, enabled more functionality by updating dependencies and simplified the licence by the use of a standard cryptographic library instead of custom Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) implementation. IRC client hexchat 2.14.1 made some changes to the preferences so the window can be scroll-able. GNOME’s messaging program empathy reverted back to version 3.12.14 and gnome-documents 3.28.0 updated translations and replaced pkgconfig(libgepub) with pkgconfig(libgepub-0.6). The Linux Kernel 4.15.13 became available in the snapshot, which added the Intel Total Memory Encryption feature, and YaST had several packages updated including autoyast2 4.0.44, which can properly abort when probing devices fails during installation.


Plasma 5.12 Brings Wayland to Leap

February 8th, 2018 by

This Tuesday KDE released the latest Long Term Support (LTS) version of the Plasma desktop 5.12.

A key point in this new release is that Wayland support was extensively worked on and is now suitable as part of the Long Term Support guarantees. In particular, the Plasma session in Wayland now plays nicer with multiple screens, and has added support for screen rotation and touchscreen calibration. It also gained a new exclusive feature, Night Color, which removes blue light from the screen at night time in a similar fashion to Redshift, which only works in X11.

This means that the upcoming openSUSE Leap 15 will offer a far more complete Wayland experience installed by default. It will just be a matter of selecting “Plasma (Wayland)” in the session list of the display manager before logging in. Nothing will change for Tumbleweed users, which had already a Wayland session available since Plasma 5.4.

The Wayland session has already been tested by openQA as part of the Tumbleweed release process as was mentioned in a previous news post, but now this is also done for live media. So, if you want to test Wayland without touching your existing installation, why not give the live media a try?

As always, have a lot of fun!

New Python3, LibreOffice, Google RE2 Packages Released in Tumbleweed

January 11th, 2018 by

Several openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots arrive before and after the new year and this post will focus on the most recent snapshots released this week.

Much of the efforts of developers this week have focused on patching the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. openSUSE’s rolling distribution produced four openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots so far this week.

While the Long-Term Support 4.4 Linux Kernel has patched many of the vulnerabilities associated with Meltdown and Spectre, the 4.14.12 Linux Kernel released in snapshot 20180107  hasn’t, but Tumbleweed users will likely see the vulnerabilities patched soon.

The most recent snapshot 20180109, which was released within the past hour, brought KDE Frameworks 5.41.0, which brought 70 addon libraries to Qt. A major version was released for LibreOffice as the libreoffice package had many fixes in gpg4libre and new features for Writer, Calc and Draw. Poppler 0.62.0 was also included in the snapshot and removed Qt4 poppler package following upstream change

Newer packages that arrived in the 20180107 snapshot were Chat Client irssi 1.0.6, which fixed some random memory bugs, and the llvm 5.0.1, which delete intermediate files during build to reduce total disk usage. And kcm_sddm 5.11.5 was a bug fix release.


Future Tumbleweed Snapshot to Bring YaST Changes

January 9th, 2018 by

What you need to know about the new storage stack (storage-ng)

Changes to YaST are coming and people using openSUSE Tumbleweed will be the first to experience these planned changes in a snapshot that is expected to be released soon.

Those following the YaST Team blog may have been read about the implementation changes expected for libstorage-ng, which have been discussed for nearly two years. Libstorage is the component used by YaST; specially used in the installer, the partitioner and AutoYaST to access disks, partitions, LVM volumes and more.

This relatively low-level component has been a constant source of headaches for YaST developers for years, but all that effort is about to bear fruit. The original design has fundamental flaws that limited YaST in many ways and the YaST Team have been working to write a replacement for it: the libstorage-ng era has begun.

This document offers an incomplete but very illustrative view of the new things that libstorage-ng will allow in the future and the libstorage limitations it will allow to leave behind. For example, it already makes possible to install a fully encrypted system with no LVM using the automatic proposal and to handle much better filesystems placed directly on a disk without any partitioning. In the short future, it will allow to fully manage Btrfs multi-device filesystems, bcache and many other technologies that were impossible to accommodate into the old system.

What’s new, right here right now


Update to Kernel 4.14 Among This Week’s Tumbleweed Snapshots

November 23rd, 2017 by

The past week brought new features to openSUSE Tumbleweed with a snapshot that included Linux Kernel 4.14. New features like HDMI Consumer Electronics Control support for Raspberry Pi and the merging of Heterogeneous Memory Management to the mainline this Long-Term Support Kernel are promising.

openSUSE’s rolling distribution produced four openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshots this week and brought many other goodies.

Topping off the latest snapshot, 20171121, was a service release of mono-core 5.4.1. Mono,  which is the open source implementation of Microsoft’s .NET Framework based on the ECMA standards for C# and the Common Language Runtime, provided a handful of bugfixes. Code-cleaning in setup.py was made available with the update to python-ldap 2.5.2. The administration and debugging tool for the XFS file system had an enormous amount of updates with the xfsprogs 4.13.1 version, which has new extent lookup helpers.

The 20171120 snapshot, which provided Linux Kernel 4.14, had updated versions for the IP lookup program GeoIP and the expat library. GeoIP 1.6.11 provided a fix for the use of a NULL pointer when opening a corrupt database with GeoIP_open and expat 2.2.5 provided several fixes including a security fix. Text editor GNU nano introduced the ability to record and replay keystrokes with version 2.9.0 and python-setuptools 36.7.2 fixed duplicate test discovery on Python 3.


From Drivers to Kernel, A Week Full of Tumbleweed Snapshots

November 3rd, 2017 by

There has been an openSUSE Tumbleweed snapshot every day this week and KDE Frameworks along with AppArmor and Plasma began a week full of new software releases for openSUSE’s rolling distribution.

The most recent snapshot was  20171101 and the update of appstream-glib to 0.7.3 added support for URL launchable types; it also provided write XML for newer AppStream specification versions. Ethtool 4.13 added some features and fixed a few issues like  the formatting of advertise bitmask. Also in the snapshot, both glib-networking 2.54.1 and glib2 2.54.2 updated translations.

The OpenType text shaping engine Harfbuzz was updated in the 20171031 snapshot to version 1.6.3, which brought new emojis through an update to Unicode 10. Postfix 3.2.4 was upgraded and builds with OpenSSL 1.0.0 or 1.0.1, but is noted to have failed to send email to some sites with “TLSA 2 X X” DNS records associated with an intermediate CA certificate.

Linux Kernel 4.13.10 was made available in the 20171030 snapshot and included several improvements for xfs.

Stricter permissions on cron directories were made with the upgrade for permissions 20171025 in snapshot 20171029 and python-qt5 also had a configuration patch added in the snapshot. (more…)