Configure system logs on Arch to avoid filled up disk

It’s been a while since I’ve been running a minimal server on a VPS, and it is a pretty humble VPS with just 32 GB of storage which works for me as I’m only hosting a handful of services. At some point I started noticing that the disk keept filling up on each time I checked.

Turns out that out of the box, Arch has a default config for systemd‘s journald that keeps a persistent journal log, but doesn’t have a limit on how much logging is kept. This means that depending on how many services, and how aggresive they log, it can be filled up pretty quickly. For me I had around 15 GB of logs, from the normal journal directory, nginx directory and my now unused prosody instance.

For prosody it was just a matter of deleting the directory as I’m not using it anymore, which freed around 4 GB of disk space. For journal I did a combination of configuring SystemMaxUse and creating a Namespace for all “email” related services as mentioned in the Arch wiki: systemd/Journal; basically just configuring /etc/systemd/journald.conf (and /etc/systemd/journald@email.conf with the comment change) with:

SystemMaxUse=100MB # 50MB for the "email" Namespace

And then for each service that I want to use this “email” Namespace I add:


Which can be changed manually or by executing systemctl edit service_name.service and it will create an override file which will be read on top of the normal service configuration. Once configured restart by running systemctl daemon-reload and systemctl restart service_name.service (probably also restart systemd-journald).

I also disabled the logging for ufw by running ufw logging off as it logs everything to the kernel “unit”, and I didn’t find a way to pipe its logs to a separate directory. It really isn’t that useful as most of the logs are the normal [UFW BLOCK] log, which is normal. If I need debugging then I’ll just enable that again. Note that you can change the logging level, if you still want some kind of logging.

Finally to clean up the nginx logs, you need to install logrotate (pacman -S logrotate) as that is what is used to clean up the nginx log directory. nginx already “installs” a config file for logrotate which is located at /etc/logrotate.d/, I just added a few lines:

/var/log/nginx/*log {
    rotate 7
    dateformat -%Y-%m-%d
    create 640 http log
        test ! -r /run/ || kill -USR1 `cat /run/`

Once you’re ok with your config, it’s just a matter of running logrotate -v -f /etc/logrotate.d/nginx which forces the run of the rule for nginx. After this, logrotate will be run daily if you enable the logrotate timer: systemctl enable logrotate.timer.

By David Luévano

Created: Thu, Jun 15, 2023 @ 10:22 UTC

Modified: Thu, Jun 15, 2023 @ 10:24 UTC