As the Log Scrolls By...

Gasson shows how a few tweaks to Apache's httpd.conf file can provide a colorful web log file.
Displaying the Colortail

To use colortail locally, you could use a command such as:

colortail -f -k /etc/colortail /var/log/httpd/
 <@cont_arrow><\#229><@$p>webmonitor_log &

This is fine except that it doesn't allow us to have it on screen all the time, and I'd often need to switch to the particular console or X window displaying the log.

To be able to monitor activity better, we display the colortail output on a Commodore 128D computer connected to the system. Our particular set up has our C128 connected to a private server using a null modem and PPP connection. From here, we log in to the server with the log files. You can use any inexpensive spare computer you may have lying around for this purpose, as long as it's capable of handling ANSI or VT100 emulation and has an 80-column display. PPP isn't a requirement.

Rather than type the command to start the colortail on the Commodore machine, we use a nightly cron program that rotates the log file and then sends the colortail output to the PTY device. See Listing 2 for the file used for this purpose.

Listing 2. Cron Program

Wrap Up

There are probably as many ways to monitor log files as there are Linux users, but that's part of the fun. While there really isn't anything “new” about using colortail to display log files, this is a different combination of resources from those I've read about, and it works for my requirements. Hopefully, this article will help others looking for a way to view real-time web activity.

Gaelyne R. Gasson ( is a web administrator in South Australia. Using the web monitoring methods described above, she can tell at a glance if someone's watching her webcam (


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