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So if I run journalctl I see loads of kernel based commands but if I look at /var/log/syslog it is empty. I would like to setup swatch to monitor the journal but I ultimately need to know where the log is actually located. Am I missing something?

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    Maybe syslog service is stopped. Type sudo systemctl status syslog to see if it's running. If it's running, cat /etc/rsyslog.d/50-default.conf to see where it is saving log files.
    – Redbob
    Oct 12, 2017 at 13:09

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Take a look at the /var/log directory.

Kernel messages can be found in /var/log/kern.log

You are welcome to take a look at the manuals or wikis:

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LinuxLogFiles

As @Redbob stated, the location of the saved log files can be found in the /etc/rsyslog.d/50-default.conf file:

cat /etc/rsyslog.d/50-default.conf

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