Experience using ferret to index log files

Hi everyone,
I’ve been exploring using ferret for indexing large amounts of
production
log files. Right now we have a homemade system for searching through
the
logs that involves specifying a date/time range and then grepping
through
the relevant files. This can take a long time.

My initial tests (on 2gb of log files) have been promising, I’ve taken
two
separate approaches:
The first is loading each line in each log file as a “document”. The
plus
side to this is that doing a search will get you individual log lines as
the
results, which is what I want. The downside is that indexing takes a
long
long time and the index size is very large even when not storing the
contents of the lines. This approach is not viable for indexing all of
our
logs.

The second approach is indexing the log files as documents. This is
relatively fast, 211sec for 2gb of logs, and the index size is a nice
12% of
the sample size. The downside is that after figuring out which files
match
your search terms, you have to crawl through each “hit” document to find
the
relevant lines.

For the sake of full disclosure, at any given time we keep roughly 30
days
of logs which comes to about 800ish Gb of log files. Each file is
roughly
15Mb in size before it gets rotated.

Has anyone else tackled a problem like this and can offer any ideas on
how
to go about searching those logs? The best idea I can come up with
(that I
haven’t implemented yet to get real numbers) is to index a certain
number of
log files by line, like the last 2 days, and then do another set by file
(like the last week). This would have fast results for the more recent
logs
and you would just have to be patient for the slightly older logs.

Any ideas/help?

Thanks,
Chris

Hi Chris,

I’ve been toying with the idea of a Ferret log indexer for my Linux
systems so this is rather interesting.

Regarding performance of the one ferret document per line, you should
look into the various tunables. An obvious one is ensuring auto_flush is
disabled, but the next likely is :max_buffered_docs. This, by default,
it set to flush to the index every 10,000 documents, but your log file
lines will be hitting that regularly. Also consider :max_buffer_memory.

As log files will often have lots of unique but “useless” terms (such as
the timestamps) I’d recommend pre-parsing your log lines. If it’s
syslog files you’re indexing, parse the timestamp and convert it to
200802221816 format and add that as a separate untokenized field to the
index. Cut it down to the maximum accuracy you’ll need as this will
reduce the number of unique terms in the index (maybe you’ll only ever
need to find logs down to the day, not the hour and minute)

Also, disable term vectors, as this will save disk space.

I’ve also found using a field as the the id is slooow, so avoid that
(that’s usually only something done with the primary key from databases
though, so I doubt you’re doing it)

Regarding performance and index size for the one ferret document per log
file: By default, ferret only indexes the first 10,000 terms of each
document so it might only be faster because it’s indexing less! Ditto
for the index file size :S See the :max_field_length option.

Write your own custom stop words list to skip indexing hugely common
words - this will reduce the size of your index.

Consider writing your own Analyzer to do tokenization to reduce the
number of unique terms, for example the following line from a log file
on my system:

Feb 21 05:13:10 lion named[15722]: unexpected RCODE (SERVFAIL) resolving
‘ns1.rfrjqrkfccysqlycevtyz.info/AAAA/IN’: 194.168.8.100#53

I’m not sure exactly how the default analyzer would tokenize this, but
an ideal list of tokens would probably be:

lion named unexpected RCODE SERVFAIL resolving
ns1.rfrjqrkfccysqlycevtyz.info AAAA IN 194.168.8.100 53

If you still want to stick to document per log file, you can use the
term_vectors to find the offset of the match in the log file - then you
just open the log file and jump to that position (store the log
filename). It does use a bit more disk space per term indexed, but
useful!

Also, omitting norms will save 1 byte per field per document too, a huge
saving I’m sure you’ll agree :wink: :index => :yes_omit_norms

Um, I think I’m done. The Ferret shortcut book by the Ferret author
covers all this stuff - it’s cheap and good:

http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/9780596527853/index.html

John.

http://johnleach.co.uk
http://www.brightbox.co.uk - UK/EU Ruby on Rails hosting

Note: Sorry if this was double posted, I sent it from the wrong email
address before.

Hi John,
Thanks for the tips. Currently I’m using these tunables for my indexer:
:max_buffer_memory => 204857600,
:max_buffered_docs => 1000000,
:merge_factor => 100000,

For some reason, if I set max_buffered_docs to 1000001 or higher, Ferret
segfaults, so I’m stuck at that.

I wasn’t aware that Ferret by default only indexes the first 10000
terms, so
I will definitely have to change that for log file-level indexing

Could you maybe elaborate a little more on a couple things:

First, I’m not really that knowledgeable on the tokenizing that is
happening. I looked through the docs and I think I understand the
basics,
but I’m not even sure how I would go about doing my own tokenizing to
create
more meaningful tokens. Is a token basically a thing that can be
searched
for? So if I had a token of “sometoken” and searched for “some” would it
find it? From what I can tell, I would have to subclass the TokenStream
class and implement “text=()” to split the input into my “tokens” and
then
have the “next” method just return them in order, correct?

Secondly, I’m not sure what you mean by looking at the term_vector to
find
the position. If I do a search and get “Hits” (
http://ferret.davebalmain.com/api/classes/Ferret/Search/Hit.html) back,
I
thought all I got was the doc id and the score. Can you explain a
little
more on this?

THanks,

Hi Chris,

On Fri, 2008-02-22 at 20:09 +0000, Chris TenHarmsel wrote:

First, I’m not really that knowledgeable on the tokenizing that is
happening. I looked through the docs and I think I understand the
basics, but I’m not even sure how I would go about doing my own
tokenizing to create more meaningful tokens. Is a token basically a
thing that can be searched for?

Tokenizing is splitting the input text into words that can be searched
for. Sometimes you can just split the text up by whitespace, but I’m
thinking that log files might need some specific attention.

So if I had a token of “sometoken” and searched for “some” would it
find it?

No. Though if you did a search for “some*”, Ferret would search the
available tokens (one of which would be sometoken), then do a search on
the matching tokens.

You might write a clever tokenizer to recognise that “sometoken” was
actually two words without a space and return them as the separate
tokens “some” and “token”.

From what I can tell, I would have to subclass the TokenStream class
and implement “text=()” to split the input into my “tokens” and then
have the “next” method just return them in order, correct?

Not sure off the top of my head, but that’s about right, but then you
need to make an Analyzer class that uses your new tokenizer. I have an
example but I’ve not got time to extract it right now, sorry!

Secondly, I’m not sure what you mean by looking at the term_vector to
find the position. If I do a search and get
“Hits” (http://ferret.davebalmain.com/api/classes/Ferret/Search/Hit.html) back, I thought all I got was the doc id and the score. Can you explain a little more on this?

The term vectors stores the offset in the document to the match, byte
position and length - it’s used often for highlighting search matches.

I’ve not actually used them myself - a quick look at the api makes it
sound like they’re used internally by the highlight method. You can get
to them using some methods on the index_reader, which return TermVector
objects.

index_reader.term_vector(doc_id, field)

http://ferret.davebalmain.com/api/classes/Ferret/Index/TermVector.html

John.


http://www.brightbox.co.uk - UK/EU Ruby on Rails Hosting
http://johnleach.co.uk