What is Tracing?
"Tracing" is a new form of logging, introduced in the 1.3.1 ProFTPD release series.
Trace logging has the concept of multiple logging channels, each of which has its own log level. Layers and APIs within the ProFTPD source will tend to use their own channels. There is no limit to the number of different log channels that can be supported.
Within a channel, the assumption is that lower log levels indicate higher priority or importance. Or to look at it another way, the higher the log level for channel, the more noisy that log channel might be. The lowest log level is 1; there is no upper log level limit.
Why have this new form of logging, in addition to all the other kinds of logs
proftpd daemon can currently produce? The usual
SystemLog of proftpd debug logging, at a high
DebugLevel, was becoming unreadable; it is difficult to find the
tidbits of knowledge amidst the other messages in that file. By separating
log messages into channels and levels, tracing gives the administrator a much
finer-grained control over the logging, given them a way of focusing the
logging more narrowly, so only the area of code of interest is logged.
Support for tracing is enabled by default. Use the
--disable-trace configure option, when compiling ProFTPD, to
disable all tracing support. I recommend that high-traffic production sites,
which have no need for debug logging at this granularity, use the
There are two new configuration directives for tracing:
Trace. Note that for tracing to be effective, these
two directives, if used, must appear at the start of your
proftpd.conf file, before any other directives.
TraceLog directive specifies a filename to which to write
the tracing log messages. For example:
TraceLog /var/ftpd/trace.logWithout this directive, no trace logging will occur.
Once you have configured your
TraceLog, you will use the
Trace directive to control the verbosity of that log:
Trace channel1:level1 channel2:level2 ...This directive lets you set each log channel and its level differently, e.g.:
Trace command:5 response:8 timer:2 config:9There is also support for a special "DEFAULT" keyword:
Trace DEFAULT:10The following is the list of channels which are covered by the "DEFAULT" keyword:
proftpd.conffile, at the very top:
TraceLog /path/to/ftpd/trace.log Trace DEFAULT:10Then all of the above channels, up to log level 10, will have their messages logged.
If you want to look at the default trace channels except for a particular channel, use level 0 to effectively disable that channel. For example, to exclude the "fsio" channel but see the rest of the default channels, you would use:
Trace DEFAULT:10 fsio:0
Note that there are trace channel names that are not part of the
"DEFAULT" channel name list (e.g. "class"); any custom channel names,
such as might be used by a third-party module, are also not covered in the
"DEFAULT" list. For example, the
mod_tls module may log to a
"tls" channel. Any messages to that "tls" channel would not appear in the
TraceLog file, using the above configuration. Instead,
you would need to explicitly mention the "tls" channel, i.e.:
TraceLog /path/to/ftpd/trace.log Trace DEFAULT:10 tls:10
Optional Trace Log Channels
In addition to the default trace log channels listed above, there are optional trace log channels:
The "directory" log channel is used when the core engine attempts
to find the closest matching
for a path.
The "fileperms" log channel is used whenever a user action involving the filesystem (e.g. opening/closing/writing/renaming/deleting files or directories) fails. This channel will log the relevant FTP command, user name, UID/GID, filesystem path, and the error.
Trace Log Format
Every log message in a
TraceLog uses the following format:
timestamp [process ID] <channel:level>: messageFor example:
Jan 16 17:15:58  <auth:6>: dispatching auth request "endgrent" to module mod_auth_unixThis shows process ID 30583 logging to the "auth" channel, log level 6, a message about handling the "endgrent" Auth API request.
Here's a concrete example of how tuning the trace logging at runtime can be
useful. You may need the extra information logged via trace logging in order
to track down/debug some issue, but you do not want to enable trace
logging all of the time in your environment. Fortunately, it is possible
to make it possible to get the trace logging information you need, when
you need to get it, and then turn the trace logging off all without
First, you need to configure your
If Controls support is enabled in your
you are using the
mod_ctrls_admin module, then you can also use the
ftpdctl command to adjust the trace logging settings in the
proftpd, without needing to change your
proftpd.conf file. See:
for more information on the
ftpdctl trace action.
proftpd.conf like so:
This configuration tells proftpd to direct all trace logging to that
TraceLog file, but to not actually write anything to the
file; the log level zero (0) filters out all trace logging messages. Start
proftpd with the updated
proftpd.conf. Later, while proftpd is
running, you can tune the tracing using the
ftpdctl utility, like this:
Here's a concrete example of how tuning the trace logging at runtime can be useful. You may need the extra information logged via trace logging in order to track down/debug some issue, but you do not want to enable trace logging all of the time in your environment. Fortunately, it is possible to make it possible to get the trace logging information you need, when you need to get it, and then turn the trace logging off all without restarting proftpd.
First, you need to configure your
# ftpdctl trace lock:10 scoreboard:5which dynamically changes the 'lock' trace channel level to 10, and the 'scoreboard' trace channel level to 5. Once you have gathered the necessary information in the
TraceLogfile, you then use
ftpdctlagain and restore the trace levels back to zero, effectively turning off trace logging once more:
# ftpdctl trace DEFAULT:0Note that the changed settings will only apply to new sessions; this does not change the trace logging for existing sessions.
Use Only When Needed
Remember that tracing is a verbose (and thus expensive) form of logging, and thus makes the
proftpd daemon run slower. Tracing should only
ever be used for debugging and development purposes; once your
proftpd is up and running the way you need, you should remove all
TraceLog directives from your
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can I configure
Trace on a
per-user basis, using
Answer: You can indeed use
Trace configurations, starting in ProFTPD 1.3.4rc1. To
do this, you need to use the optional "session" keyword in your
Trace configuration, e.g.:
Trace session DEFAULT:10
This goes for
sections as well.
Question: Can I configure