Tag Archives: sort

How to print unique errors(with count) from Apache error logs

After I moved to WordPress Multisite recently, I had to closely watch the Apache error log file for a couple of days to make sure that there weren’t any configuration mismatch.

Initially I used run the tail command to view the errors, but then I quickly realized that if there is a frequent error, then it becomes extremely difficult to find out other non frequent errors.


After some fiddling with the awk and sort commands, I came up with the following one liner that prints the unique errors with their count.


awk script is executed for each line in the error log file.

Field Separator

The -F directive is used to specify field separator. If you look at a single line in the apache error log file, you will notice that each field is enclosed by [ and ].

awk allows us to specify multiple field separators by enclosing them between []. That’s what we are specifying in -F[\[\]]

Filtering out lines that contain error

After splitting the fields, we need to filter out the lines that contain the term error in the fourth field. That’s what happens in the next part of the command. Basically the part $4 == "error"{print $7} prints the seventh field, which has the real error message if the fourth field is equal to the string “error”.

Sorting the error messages

The next step is to sort all the error messages. This is done by piping the output to the sort command.

Finding unique error messages and counting them

The next step is to find the unique error messages and then count them. This is done by piping the output to the uniq command. The -c flag does the counting.

Sorting the messages by frequency

The last step is to sort the messages again by frequency and print them. This is done by the last sort command. The -n flag sorts by numbers and the flag -r does the sorting by descending order.

Posted in Unix/Server Stuff | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment