How to configure gcplogs (Google Cloud Logging) for Docker

.. from a perspective where you are not running your VM on a Google datacenter - if you would be, then this would be a bit simpler because the logging driver autodiscovers credentials and more options automatically for you.

I wrote this because there were bits of advice scattered around, but no single “do this to get it working” anywhere.


  • gcplogs - the built-in plugin of Docker that sends log messages to Stackdriver Logging
  • Stackdriver Logging - the new name for Google Cloud (Platform) Logging (“gcp logs”).

Why Stackdriver Logging?

Practically free (free quota of 50 GB / month), centralized logging.

Choose a project in Google Cloud Platform console

Select your project (or create a new one).

I chose function61-logs as my project name.

Create service account credentials

For this project, create a new service account:

  • Service account name = docker-host (you can choose whatever you want)
  • Roles =
    • Monitoring / Monitoring Metric Writer and
    • Logging / Logs Writer

Download access key as a JSON file. You need to transfer this to each of your server.

Configure servers for logging

You need to do this on each of your servers.

Place the JSON credential file at /etc/docker/googlecloud-serviceaccount.json.

Edit /etc/docker/daemon.json to contain:

  "log-driver": "gcplogs",
  "log-opts": {
    "gcp-project": "function61-logs",
    "mode": "non-blocking",
    "max-buffer-size": "2m"

You should use non-blocking delivery mode.


GCP logging code has such a user hostility, that we can’t just configure a log option with the credentials, but instead we need to set an environment variable to the Docker daemon that contains the path to the JSON credential file.. this is so preposterous because if we need to customize ENV vars of the Docker daemon, these instructions are totally dependent on the server’s init system AND what name the service operates under… WTF why couldn’t you just let us configure this as a logger option, since the facilities are already there!!!

We’ll use a systemd drop-in to add the ENV:

$ mkdir -p /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d
$ echo -e "[Service]\nEnvironment=GOOGLE_APPLICATION_CREDENTIALS=/etc/docker/googlecloud-serviceaccount.json\n" > /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d/gcplogging.conf

After editing service definition files, you should probably run:

$ systemctl daemon-reload

Restart Docker

WARNING: this will restart all your containers.

$ systemctl restart docker

Status should tell you that the drop-in is enabled:

$ systemctl status docker
● docker.service - Docker Application Container Engine
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/docker.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
  Drop-In: /etc/systemd/system/docker.service.d
   Active: active (running) since Sun 2019-01-06 13:21:07 CET; 5min ago
 Main PID: 10637 (dockerd)
    Tasks: 18
   CGroup: /system.slice/docker.service
           └─10637 /usr/bin/dockerd -H unix://

You should also see this:

$ docker info
Logging Driver: gcplogs

Your containers’ logs should now appear in “Stackdriver Logging” at Google Cloud console.