closelog, openlog, syslog, vsyslog — send messages to the system logger


#include <syslog.h>
void openlog( const char *ident,
  int option,
  int facility);
void syslog( int priority,
  const char *format,
void closelog( void);  
void vsyslog( int priority,
  const char *format,
  va_list ap);
[Note] Note
Feature Test Macro Requirements for glibc (see feature_test_macros(7)):
Since glibc 2.19:
_DEFAULT_SOURCE Glibc 2.19 and earlier:



openlog() opens a connection to the system logger for a program.

The string pointed to by ident is prepended to every message, and is typically set to the program name. If ident is NULL, the program name is used. (POSIX.1-2008 does not specify the behavior when ident is NULL.)

The option argument specifies flags which control the operation of openlog() and subsequent calls to syslog(). The facility argument establishes a default to be used if none is specified in subsequent calls to syslog(). The values that may be specified for option and facility are described below.

The use of openlog() is optional; it will automatically be called by syslog() if necessary, in which case ident will default to NULL.

syslog() and vsyslog()

syslog() generates a log message, which will be distributed by syslogd(8).

The priority argument is formed by ORing together a facility value and a level value (described below). If no facility value is ORed into priority, then the default value set by openlog() is used, or, if there was no preceding openlog() call, a default of LOG_USER is employed.

The remaining arguments are a format, as in printf(3), and any arguments required by the format, except that the two-character sequence %m will be replaced by the error message string strerror(errno). The format string need not include a terminating newline character.

The function vsyslog() performs the same task as syslog() with the difference that it takes a set of arguments which have been obtained using the stdarg(3) variable argument list macros.


closelog() closes the file descriptor being used to write to the system logger. The use of closelog() is optional.

Values for option

The option argument to openlog() is a bit mask constructed by ORing together any of the following values:


Write directly to the system console if there is an error while sending to the system logger.


Open the connection immediately (normally, the connection is opened when the first message is logged). This may be useful, for example, if a subsequent chroot(2) would make the pathname used internally by the logging facility unreachable.


Don't wait for child processes that may have been created while logging the message. (The GNU C library does not create a child process, so this option has no effect on Linux.)


The converse of LOG_NDELAY; opening of the connection is delayed until syslog() is called. (This is the default, and need not be specified.)


(Not in POSIX.1-2001 or POSIX.1-2008.) Also log the message to stderr.


Include the caller's PID with each message.

Values for facility

The facility argument is used to specify what type of program is logging the message. This lets the configuration file specify that messages from different facilities will be handled differently.


security/authorization messages


security/authorization messages (private)


clock daemon (cron and at)


system daemons without separate facility value


ftp daemon


kernel messages (these can't be generated from user processes)


reserved for local use


line printer subsystem


mail subsystem


USENET news subsystem


messages generated internally by syslogd(8)

LOG_USER (default)

generic user-level messages


UUCP subsystem

Values for level

This determines the importance of the message. The levels are, in order of decreasing importance:


system is unusable


action must be taken immediately


critical conditions


error conditions


warning conditions


normal, but significant, condition


informational message


debug-level message

The function setlogmask(3) can be used to restrict logging to specified levels only.


For an explanation of the terms used in this section, see attributes(7).

Interface Attribute Value
openlog(), closelog() Thread safety MT-Safe
syslog(), vsyslog() Thread safety MT-Safe env locale


The functions openlog(), closelog(), and syslog() (but not vsyslog()) are specified in SUSv2, POSIX.1-2001, and POSIX.1-2008.

POSIX.1-2001 specifies only the LOG_USER and LOG_LOCAL* values for facility. However, with the exception of LOG_AUTHPRIV and LOG_FTP, the other facility values appear on most UNIX systems.

The LOG_PERROR value for option is not specified by POSIX.1-2001 or POSIX.1-2008, but is available in most versions of UNIX.


The argument ident in the call of openlog() is probably stored as-is. Thus, if the string it points to is changed, syslog() may start prepending the changed string, and if the string it points to ceases to exist, the results are undefined. Most portable is to use a string constant.

Never pass a string with user-supplied data as a format, use the following instead:

syslog(priority, "%s", string);


journalctl(1), logger(1), setlogmask(3), syslog.conf(5), syslogd(8)


This page is part of release 5.11 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be found at−pages/.

  Written  Feb 1994 by Steve Greenland (
and Copyright 2001, 2017 Michael Kerrisk <>

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Updated 1999.12.19 by Karl M. Hegbloom <>

Updated 13 Oct 2001, Michael Kerrisk <>
Added description of vsyslog
Added descriptions of LOG_ODELAY and LOG_NOWAIT
Added brief description of facility and option arguments
Added CONFORMING TO section
2001-10-13, aeb, minor changes
Modified 13 Dec 2001, Martin Schulze <>
Modified 3 Jan 2002, Michael Kerrisk <>