Update 26th June 2015
A newer version with more recent versions of the components can be found here.
The old examples may not run properly as the images have been updated with new versions of tools. Especially kibanabox needs to be built by hand as the DockerHub now builds the Kibana 4.1 image.
When I was using fat containers, I used rsyslog to pass the log messages to a centralized container which had Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana installed. This combination is also known as the ELK-stack. After moving towards microcontainers I wanted to separate the logging logic from the application containers. Orchestration is still an issue with using multiple simple containers, but at least the application containers shouldn’t need to know anything about the logging architecture as long as they can log to stdout and stderr so that Docker can pick the logs up.
All the containers in the examples have the corresponding docker.io builds created for them, so running the scripts is enough without the need to build the containers locally.
I decided to install Logstash and Elasticsearch to the same container for simplicity and separate Kibana as an own container as it’s not needed for the logging to work. I use Logspout to push the logs from the Docker socket to the Logbox.
Creating the Dockerfiles
The Dockerfiles for both Logstash + Elasticsearch (logbox) container and the Kibana (kibanabox) container can be found from github. They are pretty straightforward, although they are based on BusyBox to minimize the size. The Logbox image is about 180MB in size.
I also created a minibox image (as opposed to microbox) which contains the Java 8 runtime so it can be ran as standalone without the need to include the volume container for the JRE and runit at runtime. The size is 351.1MB and the Dockerfile can be found from github.
Running the logging architecture
Orchestration is an area that is still maturing in Dockerspace. As not many orchestrators support volume containers, the minicontainer version can be more feasible.
Running with microcontainers
The Microcontainer architecture requires the use of volume containers for sharing the Java 8 runtime . The filebox volume containers need to be created before running the example and can be created with:
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#!/bin/bash docker run --name=basefilebox sirile/basefilebox docker run --name=java8filebox sirile/java8filebox
The containers can be started with the following bash script for microcontainers:
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#!/bin/bash docker run -d --name logbox -h logbox -p 5000:5000/udp -p 9200:9200 --volumes-from java8filebox --volumes-from basefilebox sirile/logbox docker run -d -p 8000:80 -h kibanabox --name kibanabox sirile/kibanabox docker run -d --name logspout -h logspout -v /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock progrium/logspout syslog://10.10.10.30:5000
Running with minicontainers
The minicontainer image includes the Java 8 JRE and runit so including the volume containers isn’t necessary. This simplifies portability.
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#!/bin/bash docker run -d --name logbox -h logbox -p 5000:5000/udp -p 9200:9200 sirile/minilogbox docker run -d -p 8000:80 -h kibanabox --name kibanabox sirile/kibanabox docker run -d --name logspout -h logspout -v /var/run/docker.sock:/tmp/docker.sock progrium/logspout syslog://10.10.10.30:5000
This example expects the host used to run Docker to be 10.10.10.30. Of course a hostname could be used instead if the container can resolve the name using the defined DNS.
The Kibana UI can be found from http://10.10.10.30:8000.
Troubleshooting and Issues
At first after having everything running I still couldn’t get Logspout messages to go through to the Logstash container. I couldn’t find any error messages and if I used telnet to directly connect the Logstash container in port 5000, my messages showed up nicely.
After battling for a couple of hours I realized that UDP isn’t automatically supported when exposing ports to the host. Instead it needs to be manually specified with adding “/udp” after the -p parameter.
After adding the parameter the logging system began to work as expected.
Syslog message parsing
Another issue I faced were a lot of parsing failures for the log messages. It was caused by Logspout using ISO 8601 as the date format whereas the older rsyslog based parsing expected syslog format. After modifying the parser the _grokparsefailures stopped and the messages were properly handled.
Timestamps and timezones
For the timestamps to be the same across the host and containers, it may be
advisable to pass
-v /etc/localtime:/etc/localtime:ro -v
/etc/timezone:/etc/timezone:ro as parameters for all the container run
Separating logging using Logspout to direct the logs to Logstash and Elasticsearch works pretty well. One issue is that a lot of the programs log in a non-syslog friendly way by for example indenting the log messages. Parsing a Java stacktrace from multiple messages can be painful and requires further investigation. With rsyslog the messages can be combined before sending, but logspout forwards the messages as they appear, so that is not an option.