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Finger is a useful Unix command destroyed by security idiots

The finger command displays a detailed list of user information for networked users.  Of course it can be used for users on a local machine too. If you specify a user name in the format user@host, information for only that user is displayed. If no user name is given, information for all users currently logged in to the system is displayed. By default, only a one-line summary of information is displayed for each user. Finger is somewhat similar to the who command 

You can use finger to display information about a user on a networked server you want to contact. Like with any database, the information returned is only as useful as it is current. If you have a good system administrator that keeps the necessary files updated, then finger will prove to be a useful tool. If the data is outdated, finger will be a waste of time for certain information. Be aware of a time delay for the information to be returned. On a local network it is almost instant but for remote system with bad connectivity if might took longer. Also the response depends on the system load.

The following information is displayed by default:

If you specify user names, then a full listing of information is displayed for each user you specify. This listing includes:

in addition to the first list of information presented above.

Following is the general format of the finger command.

     finger [ -bfhilmpqsw ] user_name
     finger [ -l ] "user@host"
BSD (Berkeley)
  finger [ -l ] [ -m ] [ -p ] [ -s ] [ user_name ] [ last ] [ first ]
  finger "user@host"


The following list describes the options and their arguments that may be used to control how finger functions.

-b Suppress the user's home directory and login shell from a long format display.
-f Suppress the default header from short format displays.
-h Suppress the .project file from a long format display.
-i Display "idle" output format, only the login name, terminal line, login time, and idles time are displayed.
-l Force a long output format. All of the information listed in the two previous lists is displayed.
-m Match arguments only against user names (field one of the /etc/passwd file). By default finger matches the arguments you provide against the username, first names or last names.
-p Suppress the display of the .plan files.
-q Display "quick" output format, only the login name, terminal line, and login time are displayed.
-s Force a short output format. Only the first set of information listed above is displayed.
-w Suppress the full user name from a short format display.

BSD (Berkeley)
Only the -l, -m, -p, and -s options are supported. They have the same meaning as the System V options.

The following list describes the arguments that may be passed to the finger command.

first The first name of a user. finger searches the fifth field of the /etc/passwd file for a match.
last The last name of the user. finger searches the fifth field of the /etc/passwd file for a match.
user_name The name of the user you want information about.
user@host Requests information about a user residing on the system named host.
  If no user is specified, information is returned for all current users logged into the system.

The finger program only displays the first line of a user's $HOME/.project file, even if multiple lines exist.

If finger seems slow, it may be caused by a large /etc/passwd file. To help speed up finger use the -m option.

The following files are accessed by finger for the required information.

/etc/utmp The current who file
/etc/passwd The system's password file
/var/adm/lastlog An administrative file used to track the last login times of users
~/.plan The user's plan. In the academic world this was the major; in business it is usually future projects
~/.project The user's current project



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