SYSLOG(2)                  Linux Programmer's Manual                 SYSLOG(2)

       syslog,  klogctl  -  read  and/or clear kernel message ring buffer; set

       /* The glibc interface */
       #include <sys/klog.h>

       int klogctl(int type, char *bufp, int len);

       /* The handcrafted system call */
       #include <unistd.h>
       #include <linux/unistd.h>

       _syscall3(int, syslog, int, type, char *, bufp, int, len);

       int syslog(int type, char *bufp, int len);

       If you need the libc function syslog(),  (that  talks  to  syslogd(8)),
       then look at syslog(3).  The system call of this name is about control-
       ling the kernel printk()  buffer,  and  the  glibc  version  is  called

       The type argument determines the action taken by this function.

       Quoting from kernel/printk.c:
        * Commands to sys_syslog:
        *      0 -- Close the log.  Currently a NOP.
        *      1 -- Open the log. Currently a NOP.
        *      2 -- Read from the log.
        *      3 -- Read up to the last 4k of messages in the ring buffer.
        *      4 -- Read and clear last 4k of messages in the ring buffer
        *      5 -- Clear ring buffer.
        *      6 -- Disable printk's to console
        *      7 -- Enable printk's to console
        *      8 -- Set level of messages printed to console

       Only function 3 is allowed to non-root processes.

       The kernel log buffer
       The  kernel  has  a  cyclic  buffer  of length LOG_BUF_LEN (4096, since
       1.3.54: 8192, since 2.1.113: 16384) in which messages given as argument
       to  the  kernel  function  printk()  are  stored  (regardless  of their

       The call syslog (2,buf,len) waits  until  this  kernel  log  buffer  is
       nonempty,  and  then  reads  at  most len bytes into the buffer buf. It
       returns the number of bytes read. Bytes read  from  the  log  disappear
       from  the  log  buffer: the information can only be read once.  This is
       the  function  executed  by  the  kernel  when  a  user  program  reads

       The  call  syslog (3,buf,len) will read the last len bytes from the log
       buffer (nondestructively), but will not read more than was written into
       the  buffer  since the last `clear ring buffer' command (which does not
       clear the buffer at all).  It returns the number of bytes read.

       The call syslog (4,buf,len) does precisely the same, but also  executes
       the `clear ring buffer' command.

       The  call syslog (5,dummy,idummy) only executes the `clear ring buffer'

       The loglevel
       The kernel routine printk() will only print a message on  the  console,
       if  it  has  a  loglevel  less  than  the  value  of  the variable con-
       sole_loglevel (initially DEFAULT_CONSOLE_LOGLEVEL (7), but set to 10 if
       the  kernel commandline contains the word `debug', and to 15 in case of
       a kernel fault - the 10 and 15 are just silly, and  equivalent  to  8).
       This  variable  is set (to a value in the range 1-8) by the call syslog
       (8,dummy,value).  The calls syslog (type,dummy,idummy) with type  equal
       to  6 or 7, set it to 1 (kernel panics only) or 7 (all except debugging
       messages), respectively.

       Every text line in a message  has  its  own  loglevel.  This  level  is
       DEFAULT_MESSAGE_LOGLEVEL  - 1 (6) unless the line starts with <d> where
       d is a digit in the range 1-7, in which case the level is d.  The  con-
       ventional  meaning  of  the  loglevel is defined in <linux/kernel.h> as

       #define KERN_EMERG    "<0>"  /* system is unusable               */
       #define KERN_ALERT    "<1>"  /* action must be taken immediately */
       #define KERN_CRIT     "<2>"  /* critical conditions              */
       #define KERN_ERR      "<3>"  /* error conditions                 */
       #define KERN_WARNING  "<4>"  /* warning conditions               */
       #define KERN_NOTICE   "<5>"  /* normal but significant condition */
       #define KERN_INFO     "<6>"  /* informational                    */
       #define KERN_DEBUG    "<7>"  /* debug-level messages             */

       In case of error, -1 is returned, and errno is set. Otherwise, for type
       equal to 2, 3 or 4, syslog() returns the number of bytes read, and oth-
       erwise 0.

       EPERM  An attempt was made to change console_loglevel or clear the ker-
              nel message ring buffer by a process without root permissions.

       EINVAL Bad parameters.

              System  call  was  interrupted  by  a signal - nothing was read.
              (This can be seen only during a trace.)

       This system call is Linux specific and should not be used  in  programs
       intended to be portable.

       From  the  very  start  people noted that it is unfortunate that kernel
       call and library routine of the same name are entirely  different  ani-
       mals.   In  libc4  and  libc5  the  number  of this call was defined by
       SYS_klog.  In glibc 2.0 the syscall is baptised klogctl.


Linux 1.2.9                       2001-11-25                         SYSLOG(2)