How to Install Elastic Stack (ELK) on RHEL Linux


If you are a person who is, or has been in the past, in charge of inspecting and analyzing system logs in Linux, you know what a nightmare that task can become if multiple services are being monitored simultaneously.

In days past, that task had to be done mostly manually, with each log type being handled separately. Fortunately, the combination of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana on the server side, along with Filebeat on the client side, makes that once difficult task look like a walk in the park today.

The first three components form what is called an ELK stack, whose main purpose is to collect logs from multiple servers at the same time (also known as centralized logging).

A built-in java-based web interface allows you to inspect logs quickly at a glance for easier comparison and troubleshooting. These client logs are sent to a central server by Filebeat, which can be described as a log shipping agent.

Testing Environment

Let’s see how all of these pieces fit together. Our test environment will consist of the following machines:

Central Server: RHEL with IP address
Client Machine #1: Fedora with IP address
Client Machine #2: Debian with IP address

Please note that the RAM requirements for the ELK Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) can vary based on factors such as data volume, complexity of queries, and the size of your environment.

How to Install ELK Stack on RHEL

Let’s begin by installing the ELK stack on the central server (which is our RHEL 9 system), the same instructions apply to RHEL-based distributions such as Rocky and Alma Linux.

Let’s understand with a brief explanation on what each component does:

  • Elasticsearch stores the logs that are sent by the clients.
  • Logstash processes those logs.
  • Kibana provides the web interface that will help us to inspect and analyze the logs.

Install the following packages on the central server. First off, we will install Java JDK version 21, the latest one at the time of this writing), which is a dependency of the ELK components.

You may want to check first in the Java downloads page here to see if there is a newer update available.

yum update
cd /opt
rpm -Uvh jdk-21_linux-x64_bin.rpm

Time to check whether the installation completed successfully:

java -version

java version "21.0.2" 2024-01-16 LTS
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 21.0.2+13-LTS-58)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 21.0.2+13-LTS-58, mixed mode, sharing)

To install the latest versions of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana, we will have to create repositories manually as follows:

Install Elasticsearch in RHEL

1. Import the Elasticsearch public GPG key to the rpm package manager.

rpm --import

2. Insert the following lines to the repository configuration file elasticsearch.repo:


name=Elasticsearch repository for 8.x packages

3. Install the Elasticsearch package.

yum install --enablerepo=elasticsearch elasticsearch

When the installation is complete, you will be prompted to start and enable elasticsearch:

Install Elasticsearch in Linux
Install Elasticsearch in Linux

4. Start and enable the service.

systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl enable elasticsearch
systemctl start elasticsearch

5. Allow traffic through TCP port 9200 in your firewall:

firewall-cmd --add-port=9200/tcp
firewall-cmd --add-port=9200/tcp --permanent

6. Check if Elasticsearch responds to simple requests over HTTP using curl command:

curl -X GET http://localhost:9200

The output of the above command should be similar to:

Verify Elasticsearch Installation
Verify Elasticsearch Installation

Make sure you complete the above steps and then proceed with Logstash. Since both Logstash and Kibana share the Elasticsearch GPG key, there is no need to re-import it before installing the packages.

Install Logstash in RHEL

7. Insert the following lines to the repository configuration file /etc/yum.repos.d/logstash.repo:


name=Elastic repository for 8.x packages

8. Install the Logstash package:

yum install logstash

9. Add a SSL certificate based on the IP address of the ELK server at the following line below the [ v3_ca ] section in /etc/pki/tls/openssl.cnf:

[ v3_ca ]
subjectAltName = IP:

10. Generate a self-signed certificate valid for 365 days:

# cd /etc/pki/tls
# openssl req -config /etc/pki/tls/openssl.cnf -x509 -days 3650 -batch -nodes -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout private/logstash-forwarder.key -out certs/logstash-forwarder.crt

11. Configure Logstash input, output, and filter files:

Input: Create /etc/logstash/conf.d/input.conf and insert the following lines into it. This is necessary for Logstash to “learn” how to process beats coming from clients. Make sure the path to the certificate and key match the right paths as outlined in the previous step:


input {
  beats {
	port => 5044
	ssl => true
	ssl_certificate => "/etc/pki/tls/certs/logstash-forwarder.crt"
	ssl_key => "/etc/pki/tls/private/logstash-forwarder.key"

Output (/etc/logstash/conf.d/output.conf) file:


output {
  elasticsearch {
	hosts => ["localhost:9200"]
	sniffing => true
	manage_template => false
	index => "%{[@metadata][beat]}-%{+YYYY.MM.dd}"
	document_type => "%{[@metadata][type]}"

Filter (/etc/logstash/conf.d/filter.conf) file. We will log syslog messages for simplicity:


filter {
if [type] == "syslog" {
	grok {
  	match => { "message" => "%{SYSLOGLINE}" }

	date {
match => [ "timestamp", "MMM  d HH:mm:ss", "MMM dd HH:mm:ss" ]

12. Start and enable logstash:

systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl start logstash
systemctl enable logstash

13. Configure the firewall to allow Logstash to get the logs from the clients (TCP port 5044):

firewall-cmd --add-port=5044/tcp
firewall-cmd --add-port=5044/tcp --permanent

Install Kibana in RHEL

13. Insert the following lines to the repository configuration file /etc/yum.repos.d/kibana.repo:


name=Kibana repository for 8.x packages

14. Install the Kibana package:

yum install kibana

15. Start and enable Kibana.

systemctl daemon-reload
systemctl start kibana
systemctl enable kibana

16. Make sure you can access access Kibana’s web interface from another computer (allow traffic on TCP port 5601):

firewall-cmd --add-port=5601/tcp
firewall-cmd --add-port=5601/tcp --permanent

17. Launch Kibana to verify that you can access the web interface:

Kibana Dashboard
Kibana Dashboard

Install Filebeat on the Client Machine

We will show you how to do this for Client #1 (repeat for Client #2 afterward, changing paths if applicable to your distribution).

1. Copy the SSL certificate from the server to the clients using the scp command:

scp /etc/pki/tls/certs/logstash-forwarder.crt [email protected]:/etc/pki/tls/certs/

2. Import the Elasticsearch public GPG key to the rpm package manager on the client machine:

rpm --import

3. Create a repository for Filebeat (/etc/yum.repos.d/filebeat.repo) in RHEL-based distributions:


name=Elastic repository for 8.x packages

4. Configure the source to install Filebeat on Debian-based distributions:

wget -qO - | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https
echo "deb stable main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/elastic-8.x.list

5. Install the Filebeat package:

yum install filebeat   [On RHEL and based Distros]
apt install filebeat   [On Debian and its derivatives]

6. Start and enable Filebeat:

systemctl start filebeat
systemctl enable filebeat

Configure Filebeat

A word of caution here. Filebeat configuration is stored in a YAML file, which requires strict indentation. Be careful with this as you edit /etc/filebeat/filebeat.yml as follows:

  • Under paths, indicate which log files should be “shipped” to the ELK server.
  • Under prospectors:
input_type: log
document_type: syslog
  • Under output:
    • Uncomment the line that begins with logstash.
    • Indicate the IP address of your ELK server and port where Logstash is listening in hosts.
    • Make sure the path to the certificate points to the actual file you created in Step I (Logstash section) above.

The above steps are illustrated in the following image:

Configure Filebeat in Client Servers
Configure Filebeat in Client Servers

Save changes, and then restart Filebeat on the clients:

systemctl restart filebeat

Once we have completed the above steps on the clients, feel free to proceed.

Testing Filebeat

In order to verify that the logs from the clients can be sent and received successfully, run the following command on the ELK server:

curl -XGET 'http://localhost:9200/filebeat-*/_search?pretty'

The output should be similar to (notice how messages from /var/log/messages and /var/log/secure are being received from client1 and client2):

Testing Filebeat
Testing Filebeat

Otherwise, check the Filebeat configuration file for errors.

# journalctl -xe

after attempting to restart Filebeat will point you to the offending line(s).

Testing Kibana

After we have verified that logs are being shipped by the clients and received successfully on the server. The first thing that we will have to do in Kibana is configure an index pattern and set it as default.

You can describe an index as a full database in a relational database context. We will go with filebeat-* (or you can use more precise search criteria as explained in the official documentation).

Enter filebeat-* in the Index name or pattern field and then click Create:

Testing Kibana
Testing Kibana

Please note that you will be allowed to enter a more fine-grained search criteria later. Next, click the star inside the green rectangle to configure it as the default index pattern:

Configure Default Kibana Index Pattern
Configure Default Kibana Index Pattern

Finally, in the Discover menu, you will find several fields to add to the log visualization report. Just hover over them and click Add:

Add Log Visualization Report
Add Log Visualization Report

The results will be shown in the central area of the screen as shown above. Feel free to play around (add and remove fields from the log report) to become familiar with Kibana.

By default, Kibana will display the records that were processed during the last 15 minutes (see upper right corner) but you can change that behavior by selecting another time frame:

Kibana Log Reports
Kibana Log Reports

In this article, we have explained how to set up an ELK stack to collect the system logs sent by two clients, a Fedora, and a Debian machine.

Now you can refer to the official Elasticsearch documentation and find more details on how to use this setup to inspect and analyze your logs more efficiently.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We look forward to hearing from you.

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