How to use the finger command in Linux

Knowing who is using your Linux or Unix-like system is a fundamental part of managing it. Pointing at someone may be considered rude, but yours finger can still be revealing.

the finger Command is almost certainly not installed by default on your Linux distribution. It was missing on Ubuntu, Fedora, and Manjaro distributions used to research this article. We have already covered this pinky Command, the light version of finger. pinky provided by default, but if you choose to use fingerYou, yed to install it.

the finger and pinky Commands perform the same kind of task. They both give you some information about the currently logged in users on your Linux or Unix-like operating system. The information they provide is slightly different and pinky has a few more options to gradually remove the bits you may not want to see.

If you want your Linux setup to be more “Unix-like” than “Linux-like”, you might want to finger. Perhaps you’ve inherited some scripts that were expecting finger to be available. But whatever the reason, whether you are forced to – or just prefer – to use finger, here’s how to install and use it.

How to use the pinky command on Linux

Mount fingers

You can install finger on Ubuntu with this command:

sudo apt-get install finger

To install finger At Fedora, use this command:

sudo dnf install finger

You need to install on Manjaro fingerof the Arch user repository (AUR) and build it from his Source code. There are tools out there that can do this for you, so it’s an automated process. That’s great, but it does mean that you need to have these tools installed on your Manjaro system, along with a tool to get them and install them finger from the AUR. So we have to install these first.

If you do not already have a suitable AUR installer on your system, trizen is a decent option. This command installs it.

sudo pacman -Syu trizen

Before we can use trizen to install finger for us we need to install some development tools. These are called automatically by the installation and build scripts that the trizen gonna call to install finger on your system. If you have already installed items from the AUR or are developing software, they are likely already installed.

We have to install them GNU C library. We do this with this command:

sudo pacman -Syu glibc

We need that too GNU Binutils. These are from the gcc Compiler:

sudo pacman -Syu binutils

The installation process also uses the Patch utility. This command installs it:

sudo pacman -Syu patch

the make Utility is used to make the actual compile and build from finger from its source code. Install it with this command:

sudo pacman -Syu make

And of course without a compiler we will not succeed in building something from the source code. We will definitely need it gcc, the GNU Compiler Collection. This command will install it for you:

sudo pacman -Syu gcc

And finally, when the build dependencies are met, and trizen installed, we can issue the actual install command finger.

trizen -S netkit-bsd-finger

During the installation you will be asked various questions. Just press “Enter”To accept the default settings.

With your finger

Tap finger and hit “Enter” Causes finger to generate its standard output.


This will bring up a single line of information about each of the people who are signed in. The columns are:

  • Login: The name of the user account of the logged in person.
  • Name: The full name of the person, if known to the system.
  • Tty: The type of terminal you are logged into. This will usually be a pts (a pseudo teletype). “: 0” means the physical keyboard and display connected to the computer.
  • Idle: The user’s idle time. If it is a single digit, it means minutes. When there is a colon it means hours and minutes, and when there is a “d” it means days and hours.
  • Login Time: The time the person logged in.
  • Office: This is a historical hangover. It was used to indicate the name or number of the room the person worked in. This is very rarely set up by root these days. Instead of this, finger shows the IP address of the computer from which the user logged on. “: 0” means the physical keyboard and display connected to the computer.
  • Office Phone: This is another legacy item. If root has not recorded the office phone number for a person, a space is displayed.

What is a TTY in Linux? (and how to use the tty command)

Using the finger with a user

To view the details of an individual, enter their account name on the command line.

finger alec

When the finger is working on a single user, it provides a longer display. We receive additional information.

  • Directory: The person’s home directory.
  • Shell: The shell they are using.
  • On since: time and date of the user’s login, from which tty and which IP address.
  • Email: If you have any emails this will be indicated. If they recently checked their email, it shows the time they checked it. Alec has no mail waiting for him.
  • Plan: If the user creates a “.plan” and “.project” file in their home directory and adds some text describing what they are currently working on, the contents of these files will be displayed here. This is a system that is very rarely used today. We are told that Alec has no plan. This is not an indictment of his career strategy, it means that he has not bothered to update his “.plan” file.

If we repeat this command, we’ll look at Mary. We will see that she was diligent and added a descriptive text to her “.plan” and “.project” files.

finger mary

Use fingers with real names

You can use a person’s real name with finger . If you can’t remember her account name, use her real name.

finger alec tumovit

As a bonus, you will receive the account name.

Omission of the .plan and .project files

If you don’t want to see the .plan and .project file summaries, use the -p (no plan) option.

finger -p mary

Although Mary has .plan and .project files active, finger ignores them and does not report on their content.

Use the long list option

To display a list of all users in the long format display, use the -l (long format) option.

finger -l

That makes finger List all logged-in users in long display format.

Lift or point your pinky finger

As is often the case, Linux gives you choices. You can use pinky , or you can use finger.

The real difference between them is the added finesse that they bring pinky gives you the ability to very carefully remove the data that is of no interest to you. And of course it’s pre-installed.

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