UITS

In Unix, what is the finger command?

In Unix, finger is a program you can use to find information about computer users. It usually lists the login name, the full name, and possibly other details about the user you are fingering. These details may include the office location and phone number (if known), login time, idle time, time mail was last read, and the user's plan and project files. The information listed varies, and you may not be able to get any information from some sites.

In some cases, you may be able to use the finger command to verify an address or find more information for someone at another institution about whom you already have some information. The finger command is available on most Unix systems. It differs from the whois command, which you can use simply to find the email address of someone at another institution.

To use finger, at your Unix prompt, enter:

  finger username@node.domain

Replace node.domain with the appropriate machine and domain address, and username with the name of the person or the person's username, for example:

  finger dvader@mentor.cc.purdue.edu

You will get output similar to the following:

  [mentor.cc.purdue.edu]
  Login name: dvader                      In real life: Darth Vader
  Directory: /home/mentor/d/dvader        Shell: /bin/csh
  Last login Tue Jul 17 15:21 on ttyQ7 from expert.cc.purdue.edu
  Unread mail since Wed Jul 18 13:00:54 2001

This is only one of many formats the output may take; for instance, you may see something more like one of the following:

  finger skywalker@moe.cc.emory.edu

  Luke Skywalker (skywalke) is not presently logged in.
  Last seen at moe on Mon Jul 23 05:13:06 2001 from larry.cc.emory.edu
  Mail forwarded to skywalke@mail.service.emory.edu.
  Project: Save the galaxy!
  Plan:
  *Star-hopping Friday night with Han
  *Appointment with Yoda Monday at 3:15pm

  finger hsolo@tiger.depauw.edu

  [tiger.depauw.edu]
  Login name: HSOLO                     In real life: HAN SOLO
  Is not logged in.
  No Plan.

If you are trying to get information from a site that does not allow remote fingering (that is, if you must be logged into that site in order to finger users on that system), you will get results similar to this:

  finger yoda@law.weblaw.com
  [law.weblaw.com]
  connect: Connection refused

Some sites use a period ( . ) instead of an underscore ( _ ) in the full name (for example, Darth.Vader), or require an extra period to specify middle initials (Darth.E.Vader).

For more information about finger and whois, at your Unix prompt, enter one of the following:

  man finger

  man whois

Note: At Indiana University, the finger command may be available on some individual systems, but you can't finger someone at the indiana.edu domain. To find IU email addresses, use the IU Address Book.

At Indiana University, for personal or departmental Linux or Unix systems support, see At IU, how do I get support for Linux or Unix?

This is document aasp in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2010-06-29.

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