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.\" Copyright (c) 1993 Michael Haardt (,
.\" Fri Apr 2 11:32:09 MET DST 1993
.\" This is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or
.\" modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
.\" published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of
.\" the License, or (at your option) any later version.
.\" The GNU General Public License's references to "object code"
.\" and "executables" are to be interpreted as the output of any
.\" document formatting or typesetting system, including
.\" intermediate and printed output.
.\" This manual is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
.\" but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
.\" GNU General Public License for more details.
.\" You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public
.\" License along with this manual; if not, see
.\" <>.
.\" Modified 1993-07-25 by Rik Faith (
.\" Modified 1995-02-26 by Michael Haardt
.\" Modified 1996-07-20 by Michael Haardt
.\" Modified 1997-07-02 by Nicolás Lichtmaier <>
.\" Modified 2004-10-31 by aeb, following Gwenole Beauchesne
.TH UTMP 5 2017-09-15 "Linux" "Linux Programmer's Manual"
utmp, wtmp \- login records
.B #include <utmp.h>
.I utmp
file allows one to discover information about who is currently using the
There may be more users currently using the system, because not
all programs use utmp logging.
.B Warning:
.I utmp
must not be writable by the user class "other",
because many system programs (foolishly)
depend on its integrity.
You risk faked system logfiles and
modifications of system files if you leave
.I utmp
writable to any user other than the owner and group owner of the file.
The file is a sequence of
.I utmp
declared as follows in
.IR <utmp.h>
(note that this is only one of several definitions
around; details depend on the version of libc):
.in +4n
/* Values for ut_type field, below */
#define EMPTY 0 /* Record does not contain valid info
(formerly known as UT_UNKNOWN on Linux) */
#define RUN_LVL 1 /* Change in system run-level (see
\fBinit\fP(8)) */
#define BOOT_TIME 2 /* Time of system boot (in \fIut_tv\fP) */
#define NEW_TIME 3 /* Time after system clock change
(in \fIut_tv\fP) */
#define OLD_TIME 4 /* Time before system clock change
(in \fIut_tv\fP) */
#define INIT_PROCESS 5 /* Process spawned by \fBinit\fP(8) */
#define LOGIN_PROCESS 6 /* Session leader process for user login */
#define USER_PROCESS 7 /* Normal process */
#define DEAD_PROCESS 8 /* Terminated process */
#define ACCOUNTING 9 /* Not implemented */
#define UT_LINESIZE 32
#define UT_NAMESIZE 32
#define UT_HOSTSIZE 256
struct exit_status { /* Type for ut_exit, below */
short int e_termination; /* Process termination status */
short int e_exit; /* Process exit status */
struct utmp {
short ut_type; /* Type of record */
pid_t ut_pid; /* PID of login process */
char ut_line[UT_LINESIZE]; /* Device name of tty \- "/dev/" */
char ut_id[4]; /* Terminal name suffix,
or inittab(5) ID */
char ut_user[UT_NAMESIZE]; /* Username */
char ut_host[UT_HOSTSIZE]; /* Hostname for remote login, or
kernel version for run-level
messages */
struct exit_status ut_exit; /* Exit status of a process
marked as DEAD_PROCESS; not
used by Linux init (1 */
/* The ut_session and ut_tv fields must be the same size when
compiled 32- and 64-bit. This allows data files and shared
memory to be shared between 32- and 64-bit applications. */
#if __WORDSIZE == 64 && defined __WORDSIZE_COMPAT32
int32_t ut_session; /* Session ID (\fBgetsid\fP(2)),
used for windowing */
struct {
int32_t tv_sec; /* Seconds */
int32_t tv_usec; /* Microseconds */
} ut_tv; /* Time entry was made */
long ut_session; /* Session ID */
struct timeval ut_tv; /* Time entry was made */
int32_t ut_addr_v6[4]; /* Internet address of remote
host; IPv4 address uses
just ut_addr_v6[0] */
char __unused[20]; /* Reserved for future use */
/* Backward compatibility hacks */
#define ut_name ut_user
#ifndef _NO_UT_TIME
#define ut_time ut_tv.tv_sec
#define ut_xtime ut_tv.tv_sec
#define ut_addr ut_addr_v6[0]
This structure gives the name of the special file associated with the
user's terminal, the user's login name, and the time of login in the form
.BR time (2).
String fields are terminated by a null byte (\(aq\e0\(aq)
if they are shorter than the size
of the field.
The first entries ever created result from
.BR init (1)
.BR inittab (5).
Before an entry is processed, though,
.BR init (1)
cleans up utmp by setting \fIut_type\fP to \fBDEAD_PROCESS\fP, clearing
\fIut_user\fP, \fIut_host\fP, and \fIut_time\fP with null bytes for each
record which \fIut_type\fP is not \fBDEAD_PROCESS\fP or \fBRUN_LVL\fP
and where no process with PID \fIut_pid\fP exists.
If no empty record
with the needed \fIut_id\fP can be found,
.BR init (1)
creates a new one.
It sets \fIut_id\fP from the inittab, \fIut_pid\fP and \fIut_time\fP to the
current values, and \fIut_type\fP to \fBINIT_PROCESS\fP.
.BR mingetty (8)
.BR agetty (8))
locates the entry by the PID, changes \fIut_type\fP to
\fBLOGIN_PROCESS\fP, changes \fIut_time\fP, sets \fIut_line\fP, and waits
for connection to be established.
.BR login (1),
after a user has been
authenticated, changes \fIut_type\fP to \fBUSER_PROCESS\fP, changes
\fIut_time\fP, and sets \fIut_host\fP and \fIut_addr\fP.
Depending on
.BR mingetty (8)
.BR agetty (8))
.BR login (1),
records may be located by
\fIut_line\fP instead of the preferable \fIut_pid\fP.
.BR init (1)
finds that a process has exited, it locates its utmp
entry by \fIut_pid\fP, sets \fIut_type\fP to \fBDEAD_PROCESS\fP, and
clears \fIut_user\fP, \fIut_host\fP and \fIut_time\fP with null bytes.
.BR xterm (1)
and other terminal emulators directly create a
\fBUSER_PROCESS\fP record and generate the \fIut_id\fP by using the
string that suffix part of the terminal name (the characters
following \fI/dev/[pt]ty\fP).
If they find a \fBDEAD_PROCESS\fP for this ID,
they recycle it, otherwise they create a new entry.
If they can, they
will mark it as \fBDEAD_PROCESS\fP on exiting and it is advised that
they null \fIut_line\fP, \fIut_time\fP, \fIut_user\fP, and \fIut_host\fP
as well.
.BR telnetd (8)
sets up a \fBLOGIN_PROCESS\fP entry and leaves the rest to
.BR login (1)
as usual.
After the telnet session ends,
.BR telnetd (8)
cleans up utmp in the described way.
The \fIwtmp\fP file records all logins and logouts.
Its format is exactly like \fIutmp\fP except that a null username
indicates a logout
on the associated terminal.
Furthermore, the terminal name \fB~\fP
with username \fBshutdown\fP or \fBreboot\fP indicates a system
shutdown or reboot and the pair of terminal names \fB|\fP/\fB}\fP
logs the old/new system time when
.BR date (1)
changes it.
\fIwtmp\fP is maintained by
.BR login (1),
.BR init (1),
and some versions of
.BR getty (8)
.BR mingetty (8)
.BR agetty (8)).
None of these programs creates the file, so if it is
removed, record-keeping is turned off.
.I /var/run/utmp
.I /var/log/wtmp
POSIX.1 does not specify a
.I utmp
structure, but rather one named
.IR utmpx ,
with specifications for the fields
.IR ut_type ,
.IR ut_pid ,
.IR ut_line ,
.IR ut_id ,
.IR ut_user ,
.IR ut_tv .
POSIX.1 does not specify the lengths of the
.I ut_line
.I ut_user
Linux defines the
.I utmpx
structure to be the same as the
.I utmp
.SS Comparison with historical systems
Linux utmp entries conform neither to v7/BSD nor to System V; they are a
mix of the two.
v7/BSD has fewer fields; most importantly it lacks
\fIut_type\fP, which causes native v7/BSD-like programs to display (for
example) dead or login entries.
Further, there is no configuration file
which allocates slots to sessions.
BSD does so because it lacks \fIut_id\fP fields.
In Linux (as in System V), the \fIut_id\fP field of a
record will never change once it has been set, which reserves that slot
without needing a configuration file.
Clearing \fIut_id\fP may result
in race conditions leading to corrupted utmp entries and potential
security holes.
Clearing the abovementioned fields by filling them
with null bytes is not required by System V semantics,
but makes it possible to run
many programs which assume BSD semantics and which do not modify utmp.
Linux uses the BSD conventions for line contents, as documented above.
.\" mtk: What is the referrent of "them" in the following sentence?
.\" System V only uses the type field to mark them and logs
.\" informative messages such as \fB"new time"\fP in the line field.
System V has no \fIut_host\fP or \fIut_addr_v6\fP fields.
Unlike various other
systems, where utmp logging can be disabled by removing the file, utmp
must always exist on Linux.
If you want to disable
.BR who (1),
then do not make utmp world readable.
The file format is machine-dependent, so it is recommended that it be
processed only on the machine architecture where it was created.
Note that on \fIbiarch\fP platforms, that is, systems which can run both
32-bit and 64-bit applications (x86-64, ppc64, s390x, etc.),
\fIut_tv\fP is the same size in 32-bit mode as in 64-bit mode.
The same goes for \fIut_session\fP and \fIut_time\fP if they are present.
This allows data files and shared memory to be shared between
32-bit and 64-bit applications.
This is achieved by changing the type of
.I ut_session
.IR int32_t ,
and that of
.I ut_tv
to a struct with two
.I int32_t
.I tv_sec
.IR tv_usec .
Since \fIut_tv\fP may not be the same as \fIstruct timeval\fP,
then instead of the call:
.in +4n
gettimeofday((struct timeval *) &ut.ut_tv, NULL);
the following method of setting this field is recommended:
.in +4n
struct utmp ut;
struct timeval tv;
gettimeofday(&tv, NULL);
ut.ut_tv.tv_sec = tv.tv_sec;
ut.ut_tv.tv_usec = tv.tv_usec;
.\" .PP
.\" Note that the \fIutmp\fP struct from libc5 has changed in libc6.
.\" Because of this,
.\" binaries using the old libc5 struct will corrupt
.\" .IR /var/run/utmp " and/or " /var/log/wtmp .
.\" .SH BUGS
.\" This man page is based on the libc5 one, things may work differently now.
.BR ac (1),
.BR date (1),
.BR init (1),
.BR last (1),
.BR login (1),
.BR logname (1),
.BR lslogins (1),
.BR users (1),
.BR utmpdump (1),
.BR who (1),
.BR getutent (3),
.BR getutmp (3),
.BR login (3),
.BR logout (3),
.BR logwtmp (3),
.BR updwtmp (3)