Syslog logging driver

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The syslog logging driver routes logs to a syslog server. The syslog protocol uses a raw string as the log message and supports a limited set of metadata. The syslog message must be formatted in a specific way to be valid. From a valid message, the receiver can extract the following information:

  • priority: the logging level, such as debug, warning, error, info.
  • timestamp: when the event occurred.
  • hostname: where the event happened.
  • facility: which subsystem logged the message, such as mail or kernel.
  • process name and process ID (PID): The name and ID of the process that generated the log.

The format is defined in RFC 5424 and Docker’s syslog driver implements the ABNF reference in the following way:

                    +          +             +           |        +
                    |          |             |           |        |
                    |          |             |           |        |
       +------------+          +----+        |           +----+   +---------+
       v                            v        v                v             v
2017-04-01T17:41:05.616647+08:00 a.vm {taskid:aa,version:} 1787791 {taskid:aa,version:}


To use the syslog driver as the default logging driver, set the log-driver and log-opt keys to appropriate values in the daemon.json file, which is located in /etc/docker/ on Linux hosts or C:\ProgramData\docker\config\daemon.json on Windows Server. For more about configuring Docker using daemon.json, see daemon.json.

The following example sets the log driver to syslog and sets the syslog-address option. The syslog-address options supports both UDP and TCP; this example uses UDP.

  "log-driver": "syslog",
  "log-opts": {
    "syslog-address": "udp://"

Restart Docker for the changes to take effect.

Note: log-opt configuration options in the daemon.json configuration file must be provided as strings. Numeric and boolean values (such as the value for syslog-tls-skip-verify) must therefore be enclosed in quotes (").

You can set the logging driver for a specific container by using the --log-driver flag to docker container create or docker run:

docker run \
      -–log-driver syslog –-log-opt syslog-address=udp:// \
      alpine echo hello world


The following logging options are supported as options for the syslog logging driver. They can be set as defaults in the daemon.json, by adding them as key-value pairs to the log-opts JSON array. They can also be set on a given container by adding a --log-opt <key>=<value> flag for each option when starting the container.

Option Description Example value
syslog-address The address of an external syslog server. The URI specifier may be [tcp|udp|tcp+tls]://host:port, unix://path, or unixgram://path. If the transport is tcp, udp, or tcp+tls, the default port is 514. --log-opt syslog-address=tcp+tls://, --log-opt syslog-address=unix:///tmp/syslog.sock
syslog-facility The syslog facility to use. Can be the number or name for any valid syslog facility. See the syslog documentation. --log-opt syslog-facility=daemon
syslog-tls-ca-cert The absolute path to the trust certificates signed by the CA. Ignored if the address protocol is not tcp+tls. --log-opt syslog-tls-ca-cert=/etc/ca-certificates/custom/ca.pem
syslog-tls-cert The absolute path to the TLS certificate file. Ignored if the address protocol is not tcp+tls. --log-opt syslog-tls-cert=/etc/ca-certificates/custom/cert.pem
syslog-tls-key The absolute path to the TLS key file. Ignored if the address protocol is not tcp+tls. --log-opt syslog-tls-key=/etc/ca-certificates/custom/key.pem
syslog-tls-skip-verify If set to true, TLS verification is skipped when connecting to the syslog daemon. Defaults to false. Ignored if the address protocol is not tcp+tls. --log-opt syslog-tls-skip-verify=true
tag A string that is appended to the APP-NAME in the syslog message. By default, Docker uses the first 12 characters of the container ID to tag log messages. Refer to the log tag option documentation for customizing the log tag format. --log-opt tag=mailer
syslog-format The syslog message format to use. If not specified the local UNIX syslog format is used, without a specified hostname. Specify rfc3164 for the RFC-3164 compatible format, rfc5424 for RFC-5424 compatible format, or rfc5424micro for RFC-5424 compatible format with microsecond timestamp resolution. --log-opt syslog-format=rfc5424micro
labels Applies when starting the Docker daemon. A comma-separated list of logging-related labels this daemon accepts. Used for advanced log tag options. --log-opt labels=production_status,geo
env Applies when starting the Docker daemon. A comma-separated list of logging-related environment variables this daemon accepts. Used for advanced log tag options. --log-opt env=os,customer
env-regex Applies when starting the Docker daemon. Similar to and compatible with env. A regular expression to match logging-related environment variables. Used for advanced log tag options. --log-opt env-regex=^(os\|customer)
syslog, docker, logging, driver