Whether you are responsible for a server or just a programmer doing development, you’ll often have more than one logfile that you want to track at the same time. There’s a nifty little utility for Linux called MultiTail that allows you to monitor multiple logs in a single window, instead of requiring multiple separate shell windows open.
First you’ll need to download and extract the source code using the following command. (Note that you should adjust these commands for the latest version if necessary)
tar xvfz multitail-5.2.0.tgz
Now change into the directory and run “make install” to both compile and install the application. You’ll need to be running as root to install this particular application, or you can just use sudo as shown:
sudo make install
At this point it’s completely installed and can be used by any user. The default installation location is /usr/bin/multitail
You can merge logfiles into a horizontally split window by using the -i command before each logfile. This is most useful when you don’t have a lot of space or the lines in the file are very long.
multitail -i error_log -i access_log
You can even use the -l command to show the output of a command, such as a ping or trace. This would also allow you to use scripts that strip out output that you don’t want… often you only want to see certain lines in a file, such as errors.
multitail -l “ping www.howtogeek.com” -l “ping blogs.howtogeek.com”
There are loads of other options, which I will leave as an exercise for the reader. You can change the color schemes, split vertically as well as horizontally, or even view statistics on the logfiles.
You can check out the examples page on the multitail homepage, or just use the –help option to see the giant list of options.
Programmer by day, geek by night, The Geek, also known as Lowell Heddings, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on Google+ if you'd like.
- Published 12/19/07