Reviewing and exporting logs

SecureDrop Workstation aggregates system logs from all its VMs in the sd-log VM, in the folder ~/QubesIncomingLogs, with one subfolder for each VM. You can inspect these logs directly in the sd-log VM, or you can copy them to another VM, e.g., for purposes of sharing logs with the SecureDrop development team.

Please note that while the logs do not include original filenames or message contents, they do contain sensitive information, e.g.:

  • timing and usage information related to SecureDrop access

  • the two-word designation for a given source

  • metadata about submissions and replies

  • error messages that disclose further details

For this reason, the sd-log VM is networkless, and you cannot copy files from sd-log to other VMs by default.

If you want to selectively enable copying logs to a single VM, you can use tags, similar to the method used for managing clipboard access. You can add and remove the permission just before each copying operation; the change will take effect immediately.


Before copying logs to a networked VM, inspect them for sensitive information, and redact them as warranted.

To enable copying logs to a target VM, you can use a command like the following in dom0, substituting <VM name> with the name of the target VM (e.g., work):

qvm-tags <VM name> add sd-receive-logs

Verify that the tag was successfully applied using the ls subcommand:

qvm-tags <VM name> ls

To remove the permission, use this command in dom0:

qvm-tags <VM name> del sd-receive-logs

With the permission in effect, you can use the command qvm-copy in a terminal in sd-log to copy individual files to the target VM. For example, to copy a file syslog-redacted.log, you would use this command:

qvm-copy syslog-redacted.log

A graphical prompt will permit you to select any target VM that has the sd-receive-logs tag. Once successfully copied, the file can be found in the directory ~/QubesIncoming/sd-log in the target VM. See the Qubes OS documentation on copying files for more information.

To review current copy permissions, you can use qvm-ls to print out a list of VMs that can receive files from sd-log:

qvm-ls --tags sd-receive-logs