Install AxoSyslog with Podman and systemd

This page shows you how to run AxoSyslog as a systemd service using podman.

AxoSyslog provides cloud-ready syslog-ng images. These images differ from the upstream syslog-ng images, because:

  • They’re based on Alpine Linux, instead of Debian testing for reliability and smaller size (thus smaller attack surface).
  • They incorporate cloud-native features and settings, such as the Kubernetes source.
  • They incorporate container-level optimizations for better performance and improved security. For example, they use an alternative malloc library.
  • They support the ARM architecture.

The AxoSyslog images support the following architectures:

  • amd64
  • arm/v7
  • arm64


Podman version 4.6.1.

The steps in this procedure were tested on CentOS 9, but should work on other similar distributions as well.

Install AxoSyslog as a systemd service

  1. Make sure that there is no axosyslog.service unit file on the system. Run the following commands:

    sudo rm /etc/systemd/system/axosyslog.service

    Expected output:

    rm: cannot remove '/etc/systemd/system/axosyslog.service': No such file or directory
    sudo systemctl cat axosyslog.service

    Expected output:

    No files found for axosyslog.service.
  2. Create a systemd unit file called /etc/containers/systemd/axosyslog.container based on the following template:

    sudo curl -o /etc/containers/systemd/axosyslog.container
  3. Edit the unit file as needed for your environment.

    We recommend using the default mount points:

    PurposeOn the hostIn the container
    Disk-buffer and persist files/var/lib/syslog-ng/var/lib/syslog-ng
    syslog-ng configuration file/opt/axosyslog/etc/etc/syslog-ng
    Output log files/opt/axosyslog/var/log/var/log
  4. (Optional) Create an override.conf file to set custom environment values. This can be useful if you don’t want to modify /etc/containers/systemd/axosyslog.container. Run:

    systemctl edit axosyslog

    Later you can edit this file by running the previous command again.

  5. Create the /opt/axosyslog/etc/syslog-ng.conf configuration file based on the following template.

    sudo mkdir -p /opt/axosyslog/etc/ ; sudo curl -o /opt/axosyslog/etc/syslog-ng.conf

    With the following sample configuration file AxoSyslog collects the local system logs and logs received from the network into the /var/log/messages file.


    You can customize the configuration file according to your needs. For a few pointers, see Configuring AxoSyslog on server hosts and the rest of this guide.

  6. Run the following commands to reload the systemd configuration and launch the axosyslog service. Though the systemctl commands are run as root, the container will run as the specified user if set appropriately in the unit file.

    sudo systemctl daemon-reload
    sudo systemctl stop axosyslog
    sudo systemctl start axosyslog

    If there aren’t any errors, these commands don’t have any output.

  7. Run the following command to verify that the service was properly started:

    journalctl -b -u axosyslog | tail -100

    The output should be similar to:

    Feb 12 09:04:40 <your-hostname> systemd[1]: Starting AxoSyslog Container...
    Feb 12 09:04:40 <your-hostname> podman[2783]: 2024-02-12 09:04:40.454665314 -0500 EST m=+0.167732500 system refresh
    Feb 12 09:04:40 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Trying to pull
    Feb 12 09:04:40 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Pulling image // inside systemd: setting pull timeout to 5m0s
    Feb 12 09:04:41 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Getting image source signatures
    Feb 12 09:04:41 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Copying blob sha256:4f4fb700ef54461cfa02571ae0db9a0dc1e0cdb5577484a6d75e68dc38e8acc1
    Feb 12 09:04:41 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Copying blob sha256:619be1103602d98e1963557998c954c892b3872986c27365e9f651f5bc27cab8
    Feb 12 09:04:41 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Copying blob sha256:b061f41886afb563aff2a5f731f3286ba54ea6f657ed3e282f5339a12a64c5ef
    Feb 12 09:04:41 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Copying blob sha256:1b8d965a650c6a05227bd5c549930c9898071e8e7abb26886d4169a99762de0a
    Feb 12 09:04:41 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Copying blob sha256:b5b0ce6ebef193c4f909379188cfb59443e8a1809816fbb476074908b170b4d1
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Copying config sha256:c379d94ef2c5ec348dfb3a93eed9a19aed667c396008db85edc354c8f4f8cb6a
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: Writing manifest to image destination
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> podman[2783]: 2024-02-12 09:04:50.422390687 -0500 EST m=+10.135457863 container create 477c9f011684f767aae138a0f88602ff30a8c95a46d616bb3b95318ec3a4b79f (, name=AxoSyslog, org.opencontainers.image.documentation=, org.opencontainers.image.url=, org.opencontainers.image.source=, org.opencontainers.image.authors=Axoflow, org.opencontainers.image.title=AxoSyslog, org.opencontainers.image.vendor=Axoflow, PODMAN_SYSTEMD_UNIT=axosyslog.service, org.opencontainers.image.description=A cloud-native distribution of syslog-ng by Axoflow,, org.opencontainers.image.licenses=GPL-3.0-only)
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> podman[2783]: 2024-02-12 09:04:50.402626446 -0500 EST m=+10.115693622 image pull c379d94ef2c5ec348dfb3a93eed9a19aed667c396008db85edc354c8f4f8cb6a
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> podman[2783]: 2024-02-12 09:04:50.489925509 -0500 EST m=+10.202992695 container init 477c9f011684f767aae138a0f88602ff30a8c95a46d616bb3b95318ec3a4b79f (, name=AxoSyslog, org.opencontainers.image.authors=Axoflow, org.opencontainers.image.licenses=GPL-3.0-only, org.opencontainers.image.vendor=Axoflow,, PODMAN_SYSTEMD_UNIT=axosyslog.service, org.opencontainers.image.url=, org.opencontainers.image.documentation=, org.opencontainers.image.title=AxoSyslog, org.opencontainers.image.description=A cloud-native distribution of syslog-ng by Axoflow, org.opencontainers.image.source=
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> systemd[1]: Started AxoSyslog Container.
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> podman[2783]: 2024-02-12 09:04:50.500050669 -0500 EST m=+10.213117845 container start 477c9f011684f767aae138a0f88602ff30a8c95a46d616bb3b95318ec3a4b79f (, name=AxoSyslog, PODMAN_SYSTEMD_UNIT=axosyslog.service, org.opencontainers.image.source=, org.opencontainers.image.authors=Axoflow, org.opencontainers.image.description=A cloud-native distribution of syslog-ng by Axoflow, org.opencontainers.image.documentation=, org.opencontainers.image.licenses=GPL-3.0-only, org.opencontainers.image.vendor=Axoflow, org.opencontainers.image.title=AxoSyslog,, org.opencontainers.image.url=
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> axosyslog[2783]: 477c9f011684f767aae138a0f88602ff30a8c95a46d616bb3b95318ec3a4b79f
    Feb 12 09:04:50 <your-hostname> AxoSyslog[2821]: [2024-02-12T14:04:50.806054] syslog-ng starting up; version='4.6.0'
  8. Send a test message to the service:

    echo '<5> localhost test: this is a test message' | nc localhost 514

    Check that the test message has arrived into the log file:

    less /opt/axosyslog/var/log/messages

    The output should be similar to:

    Feb 19 15:49:12 localhost test: this is a test message

Customize the configuration

To customize the configuration, edit the /opt/axosyslog/etc/syslog-ng.conf file on the host, then reload the service.

Managing the AxoSyslog systemd service

  • You can reload syslog-ng running in the container via systemctl. The following command reloads the syslog-ng.conf file, without stopping/starting syslog-ng itself.

    sudo systemctl reload axosyslog
  • You can access syslog-ng-ctl from the host, for example by running:

    podman exec -ti AxoSyslog syslog-ng-ctl show-license-info

    If you use syslog-ng-ctl regularly, you can create the /opt/axosyslog/bin/syslog-ng-ctl file with the following content, make it executable, and add it to your path. That way running syslog-ng-ctl <command> will execute the command in the AxoSyslog container.

    podman exec -ti AxoSyslog syslog-ng-ctl "$@"  
  • The traditional method of starting a service at boot (systemctl enable) is not supported for container services. To automatically start the AxoSyslog service, make sure that the following line is included in the unit file. (It is included in the sample template.)

Last modified February 20, 2024: Delete disk-buffer notes (e0635bd)