home lab

Grafana Loki Configuration Syslog Server for Home Labs

If you are looking for a free and open-source Syslog server for your home lab or production environment, there is a great solution that you may not have heard about yet. It is Grafana Loki. It is a module that allows processing syslog data from various sources and feeding these into Grafana so that you can easily view log information and create dashboards from your log messages. Let’s look at Grafana Loki configuration as a syslog server for home labs.

What is Grafana Loki syslog?

Grafana Loki is a solution allowing you to send logs in any format from any source, providing an easy way have effective logging in your environment. The Grafana Loki solution breaks down as the following:

  • Grafana – dashboards and awesome visualizations to connect open-source solutions

  • Promtail – pulls logs from many sources, including local log files from the same host, server IPMI stats, systemd journal, GCP, AWS Cloudwatch, AWS EC2 and EKS, Windows event logs, application logs, Docker containers logging driver, wireless devices, Kubernetes, and Kafka

  • Loki – processes the logs and feeds these into Grafana for visualization using the Loki API v1 push

The Grafana Loki solution allows capturing syslog messages from your environment and serving as a remote syslog server, dedicated syslog forwarder, and syslog listener allowing users to point servers and other devices to Grafana Loki for log aggregation. Once Grafana Loki is configured correctly, Syslog devices immediately can send messages and hosts streaming syslog over the network can target the device logs of the Grafana Loki configuration.

Uses native syslog functionality in Linux server

In my configuration, I am using Ubuntu Server and using the native Rsyslog as the syslog server for listening as the syslog endpoint. You can also use syslog ng or another ietf syslog configuration so you can push logs from your devices to the Grafana loki syslog aio.

Syslog protocol

The syslog protocol is a standard configuration that most devices understand. We can also format syslog messages as we want so we can view these correctly when we collect data from remote servers. Grafana Loki can also serve as a syslog forwarded syslog ng logs to another syslog server.


Using the functionality of Grafana, we can also create loki dashboard displays and an overview dashboard to display information from the syslog collector. You can create a starting dashboard that is displayed when you visualize logs from the solution.

Home lab dashboards

If you have home lab servers you want to monitor and aggregate logs from, this is a great solution for a metrics person and those who want to have more detailed configuration, troubleshooting, and KPIs from their environment.

If you are troubleshooting difficult issues in the environment, like dropped connections, high dhcp retries, host metrics, performance issues, or others, having Syslog information is vital. You can use this solution to create prebuilt performance overview dashboards.

Installing Grafana Loki

There are several steps to installing Grafana Loki. These include the following setup details:

  • Installing Grafana and enabling Grafana Server

  • Installing Loki

  • Installing Promtail configuration

  • Configuring your syslog server configuration

  • Adding the Loki data source in Grafana

Let’s look at more setup details.

Install Grafana and enabling Grafana Server

First, let’s install some prerequisites to install:

sudo apt install -y gnupg2 curl

Install the Grafana GPG key

Install the Grafana Server gpg key and run an update:

curl https://packages.grafana.com/gpg.key | sudo apt-key add –

sudo add-apt-repository “deb https://packages.grafana.com/oss/deb stable main”

sudo apt-get update -y

Install Grafana Server

Install Grafana and enable Grafana server:

sudo apt -y install grafana

sudo systemctl start grafana-server

sudo systemctl enable grafana-server

At this point you should be able to log into

Install Loki

Next, let’s install Loki. To do that, we simply curl the zip file that we need. Then unzip the file and change the mode of execution.

Download and unzip Loki

curl -O -L “https://github.com/grafana/loki/releases/download/v2.6.1/loki-linux-amd64.zip

unzip “loki-linux-amd64.zip

chmod a+x loki-linux-amd64

Install Promtail

Promtail is the syslog ingestor. Its installation is just as easy as the Loki installation. It involves downloading the .ZIP file, extracting, and adding execution perms.

Download and unzip Promtail

curl -O -L “https://github.com/grafana/loki/releases/download/v2.6.1/promtail-linux-amd64.zip

unzip promtail-linux-amd64.zip

chmod a+x promtail-linux-amd64

Moving the executables and creating configuration files

Next, we will move the executables that we have extracted and setup execute permissions on to the appropriate folders. Then we will create configuration files for both Loki and Promtail.

mkdir /etc/loki

mkdir /etc/promtail

mv loki-linux-amd64 /usr/local/bin/loki

mv promtail-linux-amd64 /usr/local/bin/promtail

Now, let’s create the configuration files we need for both Loki and Promtail configuration to be valid

The config file for each will be created in /etc/loki and etc/promtail respectively:

Lok configuration (loki-local-config.yaml)

auth_enabled: false 
  http_listen_port: 3100 
        store: inmemory 
      replication_factor: 1 
    final_sleep: 0s 
  chunk_idle_period: 5m 
  chunk_retain_period: 30s 
  - from: 2020-05-15 
    store: boltdb 
    object_store: filesystem 
    schema: v11 
      prefix: index_ 
      period: 168h 
    directory: /tmp/loki/index 
    directory: /tmp/loki/chunks 
  enforce_metric_name: false 
  reject_old_samples: true 
  reject_old_samples_max_age: 168h 
  max_entries_limit_per_query: 500000 
# By default, Loki will send anonymous, but uniquely-identifiable usage and configuration 
# analytics to Grafana Labs. These statistics are sent to https://stats.grafana.org/ 
# Statistics help us better understand how Loki is used, and they show us performance 
# levels for most users. This helps us prioritize features and documentation. 
# For more information on what's sent, look at 
# https://github.com/grafana/loki/blob/main/pkg/usagestats/stats.go 
# Refer to the buildReport method to see what goes into a report. 
# If you would like to disable reporting, uncomment the following lines: 
#  reporting_enabled: false

Promtail configuration (promtail-local-config.yaml)

  http_listen_port: 9080  
  grpc_listen_port: 0  
  filename: /tmp/positions.yaml  
  - url: http://localhost:3100/loki/api/v1/push 
  - job_name: syslog 
        job: syslog 
      - source_labels: [__syslog_message_hostname] 
        target_label: host 
      - source_labels: [__syslog_message_hostname] 
        target_label: hostname 
      - source_labels: [__syslog_message_severity] 
        target_label: level 
      - source_labels: [__syslog_message_app_name] 
        target_label: application 
      - source_labels: [__syslog_message_facility] 
        target_label: facility 
      - source_labels: [__syslog_connection_hostname] 
        target_label: connection_hostname

Create services for both Loki and Promtail for Syslog messages

Now, let’s create services for both Loki and Promtail. Create the following in /etc/systemd/system

Create the file loki.service containing:

Description=Loki service

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/loki -config.file /etc/loki/loki-local-config.yaml


Create the file promtail.service containing:

Description=Promtail service

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/promtail -config.file /etc/promtail/promtail-local-config.yaml


Now reload daemon and start the services which starts Loki and the promtail process. This will run promtail.

Configuring Rsyslog for forwarding to Promtail Remote Syslog Server:

Now, we need to configure the Rsyslog service to forward our messages into Promtail. this creates the transport TCP port 1514 for capturing logs and feed into the syslog promtail job.

Add the following to the top of your /etc/rsyslog.config file:

#### MODULES ####

module(load="imuxsock") # provides support for local system logging
#module(load="immark")  # provides --MARK-- message capability

# provides UDP syslog reception
input(type="imudp" port="514")

# provides TCP syslog reception
input(type="imtcp" port="514")

# provides kernel logging support and enable non-kernel klog messages
module(load="imklog" permitnonkernelfacility="on")

# Forward everything
*.*  action(type="omfwd"
       protocol="tcp" target="" port="1514"
       TCP_Framing="octet-counted" KeepAlive="on"
       queue.type="linkedlist" queue.size="50000")

When you are finished with this step, restart your Rsyslog service.

sudo service rsyslog restart

Add the datasource in Grafana

Now, the final step is just adding our datasource in Grafana. Navigate to the settings cog in the bottom left-hand corner. Choose Data sources > Add data source.

Select Loki for the datasource.

We point this to the 3100 loki API v1 of the localhost as shown.

Here we save and test the connection.

You should see the green status meaning it is connected and working properly.

If we now navigate to the Explore section, we should start to see the labels coming in if we have pointed devices to the Grafana Loki syslog. Here I have pointed just a few hosts, ESXi hosts, to the server.

Here I am choosing the ESXi host that I have configured pointing to the Grafana Loki solution.

Now, we get super cool logs displayed in the normal beautiful format of Graphana.

Wrapping Up

If you are looking for a super cool, free and open-source solution for logging, Grafana Loki is an awesome solution that can effectively capture and display syslogs using Grafana Loki configuration, provide searching, and the ability to create dashboards easily. I have to say I found gaps in the information provided and had to piece together everything you see in the blog post to get things working correctly. Hopefully, my efforts will help anyone else get up to speed quickly. Check it out on the official documentation here:

Grafana Loki OSS | Log aggregation system

If you want to take a look at more specific vSphere logging solutions, check out my post recently covering vSphere Log Insight: vRealize Log Insight Syslog Configuration – Virtualization Howto

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