I want to monitor 2 different log files (at the time events appear in logs).

tail -f /var/log/file1 -f /var/log/file2  

For each file, I want to grep some patterns:

tail -f /var/log/file1 | grep '\(pattern1\|pattern2\)'  
tail -f /var/log/file2 | grep '\(pattern3\|pattern4\|pattern5\)' 

I do not know how to have this working all together. Furthermore I would like to print file1 logs output in red and file2 logs output in blue:

Again, I can do it for one file (snippet I grabbed in this forum):


tail -fn0 /var/log/file1 | while read line;
       if echo $line | grep -q '\(pattern1\|pattern2\)';then
          echo -e "{$RED}$line"

But I absolutely do not know how to do this for multiple files. Any ideas?

  • I was thinking: Redirecting all output in 1 file, and then use 'if / elif' or 'case' (dont know which one is faster)?
    – achille
    Aug 16, 2017 at 19:27

3 Answers 3


If you want to parse multiple logs at the same time, you can use the following syntax:

tail -f /var/log/{log1,log2}

This will produce the desired output of all required logs, so you can then use the -e argument in grep to create multiple patterns. So all together:

tail -f /var/log/{log1,log2} | grep -ie "pattern1" -ie "pattern2" -ie "pattern3"

In regards to colourisation of grep, have a look at this excellent answer.

  • @Hauke <br/> tail -n 0 -f /var/log/syslog /var/log/auth.log | awk -v searchSyslog="kvm|KVM" -v searchAuth="FAILED|open" '/^==> \/var\/log\/syslog <==$/ {print "\033[0;31m"; pattern=searchSyslog }; /^==> \/var\/log\/auth.log <==$/ { print "\033[0;34m"; pattern=searchAuth }; $0 ~ pattern' -> prints only syslog. <br/>
    – achille
    Aug 17, 2017 at 13:22
  • @Hauke <br/> tail -n 0 -f /var/log/syslog | awk -v searchSyslog="kvm|KVM" '/^==> \/var\/log\/syslog <==$/ {print "\033[0;31m"; pattern=searchSyslog }; $0 ~ pattern' ---> it prints all syslog so it works. <br/> tail -n 0 -f /var/log/auth.log | awk -v searchAuth="FAILED|opened" '/^==> \/var\/log\/auth.log <==$/ {print "\033[0;34m"; pattern=searchAuth }; $0 ~ pattern' ---> then I purposely fail root authentication (in order to have 'FAILED' pattern in /var/log/auth.log, the snippet outputs nothing. Now if I simply do a tail -f /var/log/auth.log | grep FAILED, it works. So I am stuck
    – achille
    Aug 17, 2017 at 13:23
  • @ Brett <br/ > tail -f /var/log/auth.log | GREP_COLOR='01;34' egrep -i --color=always '^.*failed.*$|^.*opened.*$' -> works fine <br/ > tail -f /var/log/syslog | GREP_COLOR='01;31' egrep -i --color=always '^.*kvm.*$' -> works fine <br/ > tail -f /var/log/{auth.log,syslog} | GREP_COLOR='01;34' egrep -i --color=always '^.*failed.*$|^.*opened.*$' | GREP_COLOR='01;31' egrep -i --color=always '^.*kvm.*$' -> no output at all. <br/ > tail -f /var/log/{auth.log,syslog} | GREP_COLORS='01;34' grep --color=always '(FAILED\|opened)' | GREP_COLORS='01;31' grep --color=always '(KVM\|kvm)' -> no output.
    – achille
    Aug 17, 2017 at 13:26
  • (I also tried with GREP_COLOR, which is deprecated but still supported in my grep version).
    – achille
    Aug 17, 2017 at 13:27
 tail -n 0 -f file1 file2 |
   awk -v file1pattern="pattern1|pattern2" -v file2pattern="pattern3|pattern4" \
  '/^==> file1 <==$/ { print "\033[0;31m"; pattern=file1pattern };
   /^==> file2 <==$/ { print "\033[0;34m"; pattern=file2pattern }; $0 ~ pattern'

Here is the solution (thank you Mr Kitt and ducks).

How to Tail -f output with colors using only Awk and show the rest of the output?

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