Tuesday Tiny Techie Tip


finger is a command that lets you point your finger at a person or system and find out some information about it. It has basically two modes of operation:
  1. Finger a person:

    % finger jeffy
    Login name: jeffy                       In real life: Jeff Youngstrom
    Directory: /home/jeffy                  Shell: /bin/csh
    Last login Thu Oct 17 11:52 on ttypa from hugo
    No unread mail
    Project: a pathetic series of poorly planned, near-random acts.
    Work Phone: (206) 557-1828
    Pager:      (206) 955-1012 or email jeffy-p@sqi.com
    Home Phone: (206) 391-3980
    If you plan to call me at home with a support issue, read
    the "talk" man-page before you do so you'll know what to do
    when I dial in to address your problem.
    This tells you that my real name is Jeff Youngstrom, my home directory is /home/jeffy, that my default shell is /bin/csh, that I last logged in to the system on which I ran the finger command on October 17th, that I've read all my mail, that I like Dilbert cartoons, and how to contact me (along with a little sermon about talk(1))

    The stuff on the "Project:" line is taken from a file in your home directory called .project

    The stuff below the "Plan:" line is taken from a file in your home directory called .plan

    You can change what the system thinks your real name is by running the chfn(1) program (short for "change finger")

  2. Finger a system:

    finger without arguments will tell you who has login shells on your current system:
    avocet% finger
    Login       Name              TTY Idle    When    Where
    jshmoe   Joe Schmoe            co   28 Tue 16:22 
    fred     Fred Bassett          p0   3d Fri 09:12  binntal             
    mary     Mary Jones            p1  22: Tue 16:19  towhee              
    fred     Fred Bassett          pe   59 Wed 09:50  binntal             
    mary     Mary Jones            q0 4:38 Mon 07:59  towhee              
    homer    Homer Simpson         q2   43 Tue 09:31  caladan             
    This tells you the userid and name of the people logged in on the local host as well as what terminal they're using (none of them really tells you much except for "co" which is the console), the amount of time since they last did anything besides stare at the screen, when they started their login session, and where they logged in from.

    If you want to find out about a system other than the one you're on, prepend an @ sign to its name, and give that as an argument to finger:

    avocet% finger @plover
    Login       Name              TTY Idle    When    Where
    geil     Lee Geil              co    6 Fri 15:07
    blight   Buzz Lightyear        p0 2:25 Fri 14:25  xterm32:0.0
    blight   Buzz Lightyear        p1 1:14 Fri 14:44  xterm32:0.0
    blight   Buzz Lightyear        p5   16 Fri 16:01  xterm32:0.0
    blight   Buzz Lightyear        p6 2:03 Fri 16:10  xterm32:0.0
    blight   Buzz Lightyear        p8 2:05 Tue 09:47  xterm32:0.0
    This mode is useful to check and see if someone is sitting at their desk (if you know what host is on their desk), or in the lab. So to find out if any of the systems in the software lab are idle, do:
    avocet% finger @alpine @bugs1 @leo
    Login       Name              TTY Idle    When    Where
    homer    Homer Simpson         co      Tue 11:09 
    homer    Homer Simpson         p0 2:04 Tue 11:10  :0.0                
    homer    Homer Simpson         p1      Tue 11:10  :0.0                
    homer    Homer Simpson         p2   27 Tue 11:11  :0.0                
    Login       Name              TTY Idle    When    Where
    rjones   Rick Jones            co    5 Tue 11:27 
    Login       Name              TTY Idle    When    Where
    mmou     Minnie Mouse          co   11 Thu 13:51 
    mmou     Minnie Mouse          p0   11 Thu 13:53  :0.0                
    mmou     Minnie Mouse          p2   11 Mon 07:46  :0.0                
    mmou     Minnie Mouse          p7  20: Mon 16:20  :0.0                
    The blanks in the idle column for alpine tell us that Mr. Simpson is active on alpine. Mr. Jones hasn't touched bugs1 for 5 minutes, and Ms. Mouse has been away from leo for 11 minutes. Maybe Minnie's done. Think I'll go over and see...

Tuesday Tiny Techie Tip -- 12 November 1996
Forward to (11/19/96)
Back to (11/05/96)
Written by Jeff Youngstrom

Up to the TTTT index

Tuesday Tiny Techie Tips are all © Copyright 1996-1997 by Jeff Youngstrom. Please ask permission before reproducing any of this material.