When I execute journalctl -f -a under Fedora 20 for different users I get different results. For root I get something similar to tail -f /var/log/syslog on older systems. As normal user I get gnome-shell warnings, some su messages, stuff Firefox writes to stdout etc. - basically a user session log.

I understand that journalctl has the concept of different journals (journalctl(1)):

Output is interleaved from all accessible journal files, whether they are rotated or currently being written, and regardless of whether they belong to the system itself or are accessible user journals.

But how to get list which journals are available for a given user?

And how to give a normal user also access to the root journal?

The journalctl man page states:

All users are granted access to their private per-user journals. However, by default, only root and users who are members of the "systemd-journal" group get access to the system journal and the journals of other users.

But this sounds like too much - the user should not have access to the journals of other normal users (just to the root journal).

  • I can only answer one of your questions, so I'll do it as a comment. According to the journald man page, journal files are in /var/log/journal with owner root, group systemd-journal. ACLs give users read-only access to their own journal. Fedora 20 gives groups adm and wheel read access. setfacl -n -m u:username:r /var/log/journal/*/system.journal would give a user access to the system journal. I don't how to list journals readable by a specific user aside from running getfacl and parsing the output. Commented Jun 5, 2014 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


The systemd-journald man page explains how journal access control is done:

Journal files are, by default, owned and readable by the "systemd-journal"
system group but are not writable. Adding a user to this group thus enables
her/him to read the journal files.

By default, each logged in user will get her/his own set of journal files in
/var/log/journal/. These files will not be owned by the user, however, in order
to avoid that the user can write to them directly. Instead, file system ACLs
are used to ensure the user gets read access only.

Additional users and groups may be granted access to journal files via file
system access control lists (ACL).

Fedora 20 uses ACLs to give users in the adm and wheel groups read access to all the journals.

how to give a normal user also access to the root journal?

Run setfacl -n -m u:username:r /var/log/journal/*/system.journal .

how to get list which journals are available for a given user?

You can su to the user and run journalctl --header|grep '^File Path' to see the names of the journals he or she has access to.

getfacl can be used to see which groups and users have access to journal files. I don't know of a simple way to list the files that are readable by a specific user.

  • 'usermod -aG systemd-journal username' will allow permanent access to the journal for a specific user. Commented May 30, 2015 at 13:05

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