Sending Apache Access Logs to Logs Data platform

Get to know what is happening on your websites in real time.

Last updated 27th July, 2020


Apache access logs are very valuable. They show the activity of your visitors, the page delivery time, the code results, the user agent that accessed your websites, etc. Logs Data Platform helps you to fully analyze this key information.

The default Apache log line looks like this: - - [23/Jan/2016:19:33:03 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 14211 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.7.12) Gecko/20050915 Firefox/1.0.7"

This line already gives a lot of information but it can be difficult to extract really useful data from plain text logs. You might know that there is already lot of ways to export your Apache logs: logstash, beats, graylog-collector, syslog-ng, rsyslog, gelf apache module. But as we still have a lot to explore in the Logs Data Platform, let's start with something simple.

This guide will present you with two non-intrusive ways to send logs to the Logs Data platform:

  • ask Apache to pipe log entries directly to the platform.
  • use syslog-ng to parse and send all of your logs
  • setup filebeat with apache module


In order to follow this guide you will need:


Use Apache to send logs directly

The following procedure has the advantage to be set up very quickly but is NOT recommended at all in production as it can block the Apache process in the case of heavy traffic. In production, please use a non-blocking solution like the second solution in this guide, or this one: Shipping logs to Logs Data platform with Filebeat

Global Apache configuration

We will configure one virtual Host to send all of its logs to your stream, you will have to repeat this configuration to every stream in order to make it work.

We use the CustomLog format directive to transform Apache logs in LTSV format and ship them to the Logs Data Platform with the proper OVHcloud token. Note that 3 fields are mandatory with the LTSV format; host, message and time (in the RFC 3339 format). Refer to the examples below to learn how to fill in these fields. Please create the file /etc/httpd/conf.d/ldp.conf or /etc/apache2/conf.d/ldp.conf (it depends of your distribution) and insert the following:

 LogFormat "X-OVH-TOKEN:XXXXXXXXXXX\tdomain:%V\thost:%h\tserver:%A\ttime:%{sec}t\tident:%l\tuser:%u\tmethod:%m\tpath:%U%q\tprotocol:%H\tstatus_int:%>s\tsize_int:%b\treferer:%{Referer}i\tagent:%{User-Agent}i\tresponse_time_int:%D\tcookie:%{cookie}i\tset_cookie:%{Set-Cookie}o\tmessage:%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b\n" combined_ltsv
 CustomLog "|/usr/bin/openssl s_client -connect <your_cluster>" combined_ltsv
 ErrorLog syslog:local1

Note that you will have to replace the address and the port of <your_cluster> with the one you have been assigned to (Check the Home page to retrieve it). Ensure that the full path of openssl is correct for your system or it won't work. Also ensure that your X-OVH-TOKEN is properly written. This tutorial covers only how to send your access logs to the Logs Data platform. To send your Error logs, you should configure your syslog template to send logs to Logs Data platform. Finally, check that you don't use any CustomLog option in your VirtualHost configuration since the VirtualHost configuration has precedence over global configuration.

VirtualHost configuration

If you want to only send logs from a specific VirtualHost, or send specific information about one VirtualHost, use this configuration to send logs to Logs Data platform:

<VirtualHost *:80>
   DocumentRoot /var/www/

   LogLevel warn
   ErrorLog /var/log/httpd/www.example.com_error.log
   CustomLog /var/log/httpd/www.example.com_access.log combined
   CustomLog "|/usr/bin/openssl s_client -connect <your_cluster>" "X-OVH-TOKEN:XXXXXXXXXXXXXX\tdomain:%V\thost:%h\tserver:%A\tident:%l\tuser:%u\ttime:%{sec}t\tmethod:%m\tpath:%U%q\tprotocol:%H\tstatus_int:%>s\tsize_int:%b\treferer:%{Referer}i\tagent:%{User-Agent}i\tresponse_time_int:%D\tcookie:%{cookie}i\tset_cookie:%{Set-Cookie}o\tmessage:%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b\n"
   ErrorLog syslog:local1

This is what you see on Graylog when you send your logs. The logs are already nicely parsed and you can immediately launch specifics searches on them:

apache Logs

Using a syslog-ng template

If you already have syslog-ng on your host and you want to leverage its features (log rotation, automatic reconnection, multiple destinations). Here are the configuration snippets allowing you to use this software.

Apache configuration

 LogFormat "X-OVH-TOKEN:XXXXXXXXXXX\tdomain:%V\thost:%h\tserver:%A\ttime:%{sec}t\tident:%l\tuser:%u\tmethod:%m\tpath:%U%q\tprotocol:%H\tstatus_int:%>s\tsize_int:%b\treferer:%{Referer}i\tagent:%{User-Agent}i\tresponse_time_int:%D\tcookie:%{cookie}i\tset_cookie:%{Set-Cookie}o\tmessage:%h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b\n" combined_ltsv
 CustomLog /var/log/httpd/access.log combined_ltsv
 ErrorLog syslog:local1

The configuration is pretty similar to the one used in the first part of this document. The only change is the path of the log file.

Syslog-ng configuration

 source s_apache {
     file("/var/log/httpd/access.log" flags(no-parse));

 template t_apache_access_log {

 destination dt_apache_access_ldp {
         ts_format("rfc3339") template(t_apache_access_log)

 parser p_apache {
     delimiters(" ")

 log {

To keep thing brief, this extract has only the parts relevant to the access log file. The syslog-ng tutorial covers the configuration for any syslog file (like the error log file). This configuration is only valid for syslog-ng 3.8+.

Apache logs format

If you want to use your own log format and include some useful information here is a cheat sheet for you (Note that the labels follows the field naming conventions).

Recommended Label About Format String of Apache mod_log_config Format String of nginx log format
time Time the request was received %t $time_local
host Remote host %h $remote_addr
forwardedfor X-Forwarded-For header %{X-Forwarded-For}i $http_x_forwarded_for
ident Remote logname %l
user Remote user %u $remote_user
req First line of request %r $request
method Request method %m $request_method
uri Request URI %U%q $request_uri
protocol Requested Protocol (usually "HTTP/1.0" or "HTTP/1.1") %H $server_protocol
status Status code %>s $status
size_int Size of response in bytes, excluding HTTP headers. %B (or '%b' for compatibility with combined format) $body_bytes_sent
reqsize_int Bytes received, including request and headers. %I (mod_log_io required) $request_length
referer Referer header %{Referer}i $http_referer
ua User-Agent header %{User-agent}i $http_user_agent
vhost Host header %{Host}i $host
reqtime_microsec_int The time taken to serve the request, in microseconds %D
reqtime_int The time taken to serve the request, in seconds %T $request_time
cache X-Cache header %{X-Cache}o $upstream_http_x_cache
runtime_num Execution time for processing some request, e.g. X-Runtime header for application server or processing time of SQL for DB server. %{X-Runtime}o $upstream_http_x_runtime
apptime_num Response time from the upstream server - $upstream_response_time

The full list of logs formats that can be used in Apache are described here mod_log_config.html

Using Filebeat

The latest releases of Filebeat have a dedicated module for Apache2. This solution is ready-to-use to configure and is more production-ready. The complete procedure of its installation is described on this page in the Apache logs use case.

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