PHP apache_note, Graphite & Logster for logging

In: General|Linux|PHP

9 Jan 2012

A nice tip for logging data against apache logs within requests. Apache_note is a wrapper for Apache’s table_get and table_set. It edits the table of notes that exists during a request. The table’s purpose is to allow Apache modules to communicate.

if (function_exists('apache_note')) {

    if (isset($_SESSION) && !empty($_SESSION)) {
        apache_note('session_id',     session_id());
        apache_note('users_id',       isset($_SESSION['users_id'])? $_SESSION['users_id'] : null);


    apache_note('start_time',     isset($_SERVER['REQUEST_TIME'])? $_SERVER['REQUEST_TIME'] : null);
    apache_note('end_time',       time());
    apache_note('peak_memory',    memory_get_peak_usage());


This will allow the variable to be exposed to apache logs in the form of the following.

LogFormat "%{session_id}n %{users_id}n " combined

You can easily add this globally by using the auto_append_file directive in the php ini.

auto_append_file = /var/www/footer.php

Additionally it is quite handy to include the following in a custom log format for debugging purposes. For example if you have hung apache processes.

Format String Description
%…D The time taken to serve the request, in microseconds.
%…B Size of response in bytes, excluding HTTP headers.
%…P The process ID of the child that serviced the request.
%…{format}P The process ID or thread id of the child that serviced the request. Valid formats are pid and tid. (Apache 2.0.46 and later)
%…X Connection status when response is completed:
X = connection aborted before the response completed.
+ = connection may be kept alive after the response is sent.
– = connection will be closed after the response is sent.
(This directive was %…c in late versions of Apache 1.3, but this conflicted with the historical ssl %…{var}c syntax.)

Common Log Format with Virtual Host and above params

LogFormat "%v %h %l %u %t \"%r\" %>s %b %B %P %X %{session_id}n %{users_id}n %{peak_memory}n" custom_log

You can take this one step further and log these in realtime using Graphite, Logtailer and logster. This holds the offset from the last time you scanned your logs. So this will give you accurate graphs. I have also added a custom parser for PHP, which can be found here.

An example of this, although does not have any errors shown below (hidden the server names).

1 Response to PHP apache_note, Graphite & Logster for logging


John Cannon

July 9th, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Hey that was really needful. Thanks for sharing. I’ll surely be looking for more.

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About this blog

I have been a developer for roughly 10 years and have worked with an extensive range of technologies. Whilst working for relatively small companies, I have worked with all aspects of the development life cycle, which has given me a broad and in-depth experience.