The man page of logrotate says that:

It can be used when some program cannot be told to close its logfile
and  thus  might  continue writing to the previous log file for some

I'm confused by this. If a program cannot be told to close its logfile, it will continue to write forever, not for sometime. If the compression is postponed to next rotation cycle, the program continues to write to that file even after the next rotation cycle. How is postponing solving the problem?

My understanding is that copytruncate should be used when a program cannot be told to close the logfile. I'm aware that some data written to the logfile gets lost when the copy is in progress.

I was looking at the logrotate file for couchdb, and it had both copytruncate and delaycompress options.

/usr/local/couchdb-1.0.1/var/log/couchdb/*.log {
   rotate 10

It looks like there is no point using delaycompress when copytruncate is already there. What am I missing?

4 Answers 4


Your understanding of copytruncate is correct, but the wording in the manpage for delaycompress is a little misleading. More properly, it should say "when some program cannot be told to immediately close it's logfile" -- for instance, if you're using sharedscripts and the script sends a signal to the process using the log when all the log files have been rotated.

  • 1
    When I'm using copytruncate, there is no need to tell the program to close it's logfile. So is it meaningless to specify delaycompress along with copytruncate? Jul 21, 2011 at 6:31
  • 7
    Never use copytruncate unless you absolutely have to, because it loses log entries. You can use both options if you want the other feature that delaycompress provides -- the ability to read the previous logfile without needing to decompress it first.
    – womble
    Jul 21, 2011 at 7:08
  • Is there any option other than copytruncate if I can't tell my program to reload? Jul 25, 2011 at 4:33
  • 6
    No. It's why you should use software that doesn't suck, and which will accept a signal to say "reload your logs".
    – womble
    Jul 25, 2011 at 5:26

We use:

  • daily
  • delaycompress
  • nodateext

This creates fixed copy of the apache access_log access_log.1 so that we can then run our Stats package as a script at the end of the day.

The following day logrotate compresses the file creating access_log.2.zip


Not sure if I completely understand your question, but if you're asking what I think...I use this:

          killall -HUP syslog-ng

That's a nice (or at least a) way to kill the log and move to the next. For "programs" that suck, such as Cisco's ASA platform that log tons of data per second, it works.


The reason for this is when software performs its own rotation. This is usually done by copying the current log to a newly created file, then truncating the original. This can take some time and logrotate don't have any mechanism to signal back that a file is ready to be compressed.

Logrotate can be used only to compress and maintain archives rather than performing the actual rotation.

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