Configure log rotation for the catalina log in Jira Server

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Platform notice: Server and Data Center only. This article only applies to Atlassian products on the Server and Data Center platforms.

Support for Server* products ended on February 15th 2024. If you are running a Server product, you can visit the Atlassian Server end of support announcement to review your migration options.

*Except Fisheye and Crucible


By default, JIRA applications mirror the application log output (atlassian-jira.log) to the Tomcat log file, catalina.out. This file can grow quite large and cannot be rotated by JIRA applications using Log4j configuration.

There is a suggestion to handle this better in product tracked in  JRA-28941 - Getting issue details... STATUS .

For Windows-specific versions, please see this KB: Reduce Tomcat logging for Jira server on Windows


There are many systems that you can use to rotate logs and each has their pros, cons, and quirks. These methods are noted in the Apache Tomcat documentation:

  • Use jsvc to start Tomcat then send a SIGUSR1 signal from a log rotation script (logrotate, mv, or any other method).
  • Use 'logrotate' with the 'copytruncate' option
  • Modify bin/ or bin/catalina.bat to pipe output from the JVM into a piped-logger such as chronolog or Apache httpd's rotate logs.

The simplest option is logrotate with copy truncate so we have documented this method here. This is an excellent option for Linux/Unix installations because logrotate is probably already being used to rotate all your system logs.

The content on this page relates to platforms which are not supported by JIRA. Consequently, Atlassian cannot guarantee providing any support for it. Please be aware that this material is provided for your information only and using it is done so at your own risk.

Configuration, installation and log file locations differ between operating systems. Do not execute the commands below without checking that the file locations are correct for your system. In this example, we have these locations:

When you have confirmed the file and directory paths above, follow these steps, inserting the correct locations in the shell commands.

  1. Check that your system has logrotate installed:

    which logrotate

    If you don't get a path to the executable, it is likely you do not have logrotate installed and cannot continue. You may be able to install it using your system's package manager.

    Make sure that you install logrotate version 3.8.0 or later as the solution specified below does not work with older logrotate versions.

  2. Purge the contents of catalina.out. This is necessary in case the file has grown so large that rotating it would create a problem. JIRA applications will happily continue writing to the file after you run this:

    echo > /opt/atlassian/jira/logs/catalina.out

    This is relatively safe because almost everything is already present in your JIRA application logs. Alternatively, you could copy the file to another location before purging it.

  3. Find the user and group that is set for the parent directory:

    ls -la /opt/atlassian/jira/logs

    The user and group listed for "." are the ones you need for the next step.

  4. Create a file at /etc/logrotate.d/jira-tomcat.conf with the content below. Use the user/group from the prior step after the "su" directive:

    /opt/atlassian/jira/logs/catalina.out {
    	rotate 5
    	size 20M

    Note that 'nocompress' will leave the log archives uncompressed, if it is desirable to compress them in order to save filesystem space, omit this parameter.

  5. Perform a test rotation:

    logrotate --force /etc/logrotate.d/jira-tomcat.conf

Verify it's working correctly by checking that there are now two files, catalina.out and catalina.out.1:

ls /opt/atlassian/jira/logs | grep catalina.out

For additional details about logrotate refer to the log rotate man page. A feature suggestion to handle this better in JIRA applications is tracked as JRASERVER-28941 - Getting issue details... STATUS .

Alternate Solution

An alternative is to remove the JIRA application-specific logging from catalina.out, drastically reducing its file size. This is done by removing all references to console in the JIRA_INSTALL/atlassian-jira/WEB-INF/classes/ file. JIRA applications will continue to log to atlassian-jira.log. This is already configured to be a rolling log by default. It rotates the logs every 20MB.

See the detailed workaround in the JRASERVER-67796 - Getting issue details... STATUS

DescriptionBy default, JIRA applications mirror the application log output (atlassian-jira.log) to the Tomcat log file, catalina.out. This file can grow quite large and cannot be rotated by JIRA applications using Log4j configuration.
Last modified on Feb 13, 2024

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