Lighttpd rotating log files with logrotate tool

last updated in Categories CentOS, Debian Linux, File system, FreeBSD, Gentoo Linux, Howto, lighttpd, Linux, RedHat/Fedora Linux, Storage, Ubuntu Linux, UNIX
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Last time I wrote about setting up virtual hosting for Lighttpd web server. Naturally next step is to setup log rotating with logrotate which rotates, compresses log files.


Our setup

Our sample setup has total 6 log files:
Default domain/IP log files:
/var/log/lighttpd/error.log virtual domain log files:
/var/log/lighttpd/error.log virtual domain log files:

logrotate Configuration

All you need to do is open/create logrotate configuration file for lighttpd. Open file /etc/logrotate.d/lighttpd:
# vi /etc/logrotate.d/lighttpd

Append following text:
"/var/log/lighttpd/*.log" "/var/log/lighttpd/*.log " "/var/log/lighttpd/*.log " {
rotate 7
/etc/init.d/lighttpd reload


  • “/var/log/lighttpd/*.log” “/var/log/lighttpd/*.log ” “/var/log/lighttpd/*.log “: Log files with wild card specification as per our setup.
  • missingok: If the log file is missing, go on to the next log file without issuing an error message.
  • copytruncate: Truncate the original log file to zero size in place after creating a copy, instead of moving the old log file and optionally creating a new one
  • rotate 7: Log files are rotated 7 times before being removed or mailed to the address specified in a mail directive. If count is 0, old versions are removed rather then rotated.
  • compress: Old versions of log files are compressed with gzip to save disk space.
  • notifempty: Do not rotate the log if it is empty
  • sharedscripts
    /etc/init.d/lighttpd reload
    The lines between postrotate and endscript (both of which must appear on lines by themselves) are executed after the log file is rotated. These directives may only appear inside a log file definition. In our case we are reloading lighttpd. Other opting could be send –HUP single using kill command.

Make sure crond runs automatically after system reboot

Now your logs will rotate with logrotate command which is called from cronjob (/etc/cron.daily/logrotate) everyday. So make sure crond is running all the time:
# /etc/init.d/crond start
# chkconfig --list crond
# chkconfig crond on

Alternatively, run text based GUI tool for same purpose (Redhat/CentOS/Fedora and friends):
# ntsysv

If you are using Debian Linux, type the following command to configure crond using text based GUI tools:
# rcconf

Alternatively you can use update-rc.d command (Debian / Ubuntu Linux) to start crond automatically after system reboot:
# update-rc.d crond defaults


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

15 comment

  1. If you are running BSD, you can use BSD’s newsyslog to do the same. Just add this line to /etc/newsyslog.conf:

    644 7 * $D0
    B /var/run/

    It rotates the lighttpd access log everyday at midnight, saves seven previous logs, and sends -HUP to lighttpd. See “man newsyslog.conf” for more information.

  2. Sigh… it got truncated:

    /var/log/lighttpd.access.log www:www 644 7 * $D0 B /var/run/

    (If you have lighttpd running as a different user/group than www, modify accordingly.)

  3. @ F4jr
    It sure is! You do need to tell newsyslog that the logfile is a shell pattern with the G flag:

    /var/log/lighttpd.*.log www:www 644 7 * $D0 GJ /var/run/

  4. Why does lighttpd need to be restarted after rotating the log files? Isn’t the log simply copied, then truncated? I don’t see why a restart is needed.

  5. Good question Geoff.

    I also wonder why does lighttpd has to be restarted after logs are rotated?

    If the logs are rotated everyday, the server is restarted every day.

  6. @ Geoff and Rytis:

    I don’t think the HUP signal actually restarts lighttpd, from my understanding it tells the daemon to close any open file handles, open a new logfile and reload the config file

  7. @ Rob

    mod_status reports lighttpd started up after logs were rotated, and all the previous stats are cleared. Since some of my logs are roated daily, my server uptime reported by mod_status is never more than a day.

    I was just wondering if it’s possible to rotate the logs and keep the server running (or is it good to restart it every day anyways?)

  8. @ Rytis

    mod_status shows no change in uptime between log rotations for me … lighttpd-1.4.23 on FreeBSD 7.2-STABLE


    /var/log/lighttpd.*.log www:www 600 7 * $D0 GJ /var/run/

  9. Am getting this problem very biggly

    Please help me out

    vi /etc/logrotate.conf
    # see “man logrotate” for details
    # rotate log files weekly

    # keep 4 weeks worth of backlogs
    rotate 4

    # create new (empty) log files after rotating old ones

    # uncomment this if you want your log files compressed

    # RPM packages drop log rotation information into this directory
    include /etc/logrotate.d

    # no packages own wtmp — we’ll rotate them here
    /var/log/wtmp {
    minsize 1M
    create 0664 root utmp
    rotate 1

    cat /etc/logrotate.d/httpd

    /var/log/httpd/*log {
    /sbin/service httpd reload > /dev/null 2>/dev/null || true

    My server is running nearly 10 sites and all those creating log files under statistics in vhosts.
    it wil become more than 30 gb with in week. how to control it. please reply me

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