I am getting 'logrotate: ALERT exited abnormally with [1]' messages in logs when SELinux is in the Enforcing mode

Solution Unverified - Updated -


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
  • SELinux in the Enforcing mode


  • /var/log/messages show that logrotate fails with error ALERT exited abnormally with [1]


  • To get rid of the message ALERT exited abnormally with [1], check if logrotate is being used to rotate logs other than those in /var/log. If so, then SELinux can be the cause of this issue. The directories outside of /var/log should have the same context as /var/log has. Set the following SELinux context on the directories where logrotate should rotate the logs.

Example: logrotate has been configured to rotate files in /backup/mysql

  • Run the following command:
# semanage fcontext -a -t var_log_t '/backup/mysql(/.*)?'

The above command will define the context that would be automatically set on new files under /backup/mysql. This definition will be stored in /etc/selinux/targeted/contexts/files/file_contexts.local, so that the changes will be persistent. This can be verified by looking into the file:

# cat /etc/selinux/targeted/contexts/files/file_contexts.local
# This file is auto-generated by libsemanage
# Do not edit directly.

/backup/mysql(/.*)?    system_u:object_r:var_log_t:s0
  • Run the following command to recursively set the context for files under /backup/mysql according to the newly defined definition:
# restorecon -Frvv /backup/mysql
restorecon reset /backup/mysql context system_u:object_r:default_t:s0->system_u:object_r:var_log_t:s0
restorecon reset /backup/mysql/backup.tar context system_u:object_r:default_t:s0->system_u:object_r:var_log_t:s0
  • If SELinux is not in the Enforcing mode, this solution does not apply. Please, refer to this article in order to get more information on logrotate troubleshooting.

Root Cause

  • SELinux denies logrotate to check the attributes of the rotated log file, this happens when logrotate has to rotate files outside of /var/log (defined in logrotate.conf).

  • logrotate indeed sends a logger message logrotate: ALERT exited abnormally with [1] because of SELinux, but it doesn't stop logrotate from completing successfully. The reason is that the /etc/cron.daily/logrotate script checks if the logrotate command ran succesfully by checking the exit status of the logrotate command. This is non-zero not because logrotate was not able to run, but because logrotate was trying to get the attributes (permissions) on the rotated file created in a custom directory, which SELinux denied by the following message:

    CALL msg=audit(1335727501.512:1389214): arch=c000003e syscall=4 success=no exit=-13 a0=12ec760 a1=7fffdba0de60 a2=7fffdba0de60 a3=b 
    items=0 ppid=14260 pid=14262 auid=0 uid=0 gid=0 euid=0 suid=0 fsuid=0 egid=0 sgid=0 fsgid=0 tty=(none) ses=44399 comm="logrotate" 
    exe="/usr/sbin/logrotate" subj=system_u:system_r:logrotate_t:s0-s0:c0.c1023 key=(null)
    type=AVC msg=audit(1335727501.512:1389214): avc:  denied  { getattr } for  pid=14262 comm="logrotate" path="/backup/mysql/backup.gz" 
    dev=dm-0 ino=131206 scontext=system_u:system_r:logrotate_t:s0-s0:c0.c1023 tcontext=unconfined_u:object_r:default_t:s0 tclass=file
  • In the environments where logrotate.conf or the /etc/logrotate.d directory has custom logrotate scripts where logrotate has to rotate files out of the /var/log directory.


    /backup/mysql/backup.tar {
            rotate 5
  • In the above example logrotate rotates /backup/mysql/backup.tar daily. The above file by default would have the SELinux context unconfined_u:object_r:default_t:s0. This would cause SELinux to deny logrotate to get an attribute list (getattr). For logrotate to get getattr on the files created in the /backup/mysql directory. The files should have the var_log_t context.

Diagnostic Steps

  • Check if /etc/logrotate.conf or the /etc/logrotate.d directory has custom scripts that require logrotate to rotate files from directories outside of /var/log.

  • Check the SELinux context on those custom directories. They should have the "var_log_t" type on those files.

  • The message logrotate: ALERT exited abnormally with [1] comes from the /etc/cron.daily/logrotate script:


/usr/sbin/logrotate /etc/logrotate.conf >/dev/null 2>&1
if [ $EXITVALUE != 0 ]; then
    /usr/bin/logger -t logrotate "ALERT exited abnormally with [$EXITVALUE]"
exit 0

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