we would like to understand copytruncate before rotating the file using logrotate with below configuration:

/app/syslog-ng/custom/output/all_devices.log { 
size 200M 
dateformat -%Y%m%d-%s 
rotate 365 
    /app/syslog-ng/sbin/syslog-ng-ctl reload 

RHEL 7.x, 8GB RAM, 4 VCpu


How does logrotate truncate the file, when syslog-NG already opened file for logging? Is it not the contention of resource? Does syslog-NG close the file immediately, when it has nothing to log?

  • @JeffSchaller May I know the reason for this query tagged opinion-based? Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 17:53
  • This question originally asked about the ideal logfile size for rotation, which is why it got closed as "opinion-based". That part of the question is no longer there, so I'm reopening it.
    – Kusalananda
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


Truncating a logfile actually works because the writers open the files for writing using O_APPEND.

From the open(2) man page:

O_APPEND: The file is opened in append mode. Before each write(2), the file offset is positioned at the end of the file, as if with lseek(2). The modification of the file offset and the write operation are performed as a single atomic step.

As mentioned, the operation is atomic, so whenever a write is issued, it will append to the current offset matching the end of file, not the one saved before the previous write operation completed.

This makes an append work after a truncate operation, writing the next log line to the beginning of the file again, without the need to reopen the file.

(The same feature of O_APPEND also makes it possible to have multiple writers appending to the same file, without clobbering each other's updates.)

The loggers also write a log line using a single write(2) operation, to prevent a log line from being broken in two during a truncate or concurrent write operation.

Note that loggers like syslog, syslog-ng or rsyslog typically don't need to use copytruncate since they have support to reopen the log files, usually by sending them a SIGHUP. logrotate's support for copytruncate exists to cater for other loggers which typically append to logfiles but that don't necessarily have a good way to reopen the logfile (so rotation by renaming doesn't work in those cases.)

Please note also that copyrotate has an inherent race condition, in that it's possible that the writer will append a line to the logfile just after logrotate finished the copy and before it has issued the truncate operation. That race condition would cause it to lose those lines of log forever. That's why rotating logs using copytruncate is usually not recommended, unless it's the only possible way to do it.

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