How to Install Suricata on a Linux Box in 5 Minutes


It’s annoying to me that package managers are so bad at deploying Intrusion Detection systems like Snort and Suricata. They never seem to work the way they should, so I prefer to build from source and configure them myself. And it’s actually super easy.

Here’s how to go from nothing to a working Suricata install—on any modern Linux system—in just minutes.

1. Get the software

It will be here: (download the Linux version, which is a tarball).

2. Expand the software:

tar xvzf suricata-$VER.tar.gz

3. Enter the software directory

[ NOTE: We will now refer to whatever your directory is named (based on version) as suricata-dir. ]

cd suricata-dir

4. Compile, build, configure, and install the software

There are some great built-in options for doing lots of configuration automatically, such as creating the required directories, building your suricata.yaml file, and downloading the latest Emerging Threat ruleset.

./configure –prefix=/usr –sysconfdir=/etc && make && make install-full

5. Set permissions

You don’t want to run your IDS as root because…well, because parsers.

So let’s do some hygiene real quick to run as an unprivileged user:

# Create our user

adduser suri

# Create our group (might already exist)

addgroup suri

# Add user to our group

adduser suri suri

# Give our user rights to log

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chown -R suri:suri /var/log/suricata/

6. Start the IDS in daemon mode

Now that we’re installed, we can just run the IDS and put it in daemon mode.

LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/local/lib /usr/local/bin/suricata -c /etc/suricata/suricata.yaml -i eth0 -l /var/log/suricata –user=suri –group=suri -D

This will:

  1. Start the IDS using the config file we just created

  2. Use the eth0 interface

  3. Set the IDS to run as suri instead of root

  4. Log to /var/log/suricata/fast.log

6. Check out some logs!

Now that we’re running, we should have logs to look at.


tail -f /var/log/suricata/fast.log

If you have a busy server you should see logs come in fairly quickly. If you don’t have a busy server, and you want to test if it’s working, scan the box with nmap and you should see some events.


Ok, that’s how to get a working IDS installation on a Linux box in less than 5 minutes. It works on any Linux distro because it’s source-based instead of package-based.

In the next part of this series I’m going to talk about how to:

  • Keep your ruleset up to date

  • Do some cool stuff with your logs

  • Set up alerts for high-priority events

  • More!

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