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Re: Is updating utmp when logging in a user a requirement in Debian?

On Sat, Jun 29, 2013 at 09:36:15AM +0200, Petter Reinholdtsen wrote:
> Traditionally, on Unix like systems, it is possible to run the 'w' and
> 'who' command to see all logged in users and ttys currently in used on
> the system.  These commands look in /var/run/utmp to figure out what
> users are logged in, and depend on login managers (like login, gdm, etc)
> and terminal emulators to update the utmp file at the start and end of a
> session.  In addition, the /var/log/wtmp file is used to record a
> history of sessions, accessable using the 'last' command.

> I believe it is a requirement in Debian to keep the files utmp and wtmp
> up to date, and that any program should be able to depend on the content
> of these files.  Example of packages depending on correct utmp
> information is sysvinit (the shutdown program broadcast a message to all
> logged in users), acpi-support-base (will lock the screen with the
> console user's password for hibernation) and killer (kill processes of
> users without active console sessions).

> But my view is not shared by everyone, as for example can be seen in
> <URL: http://bugs.debian.org/648604 >, where the maintainer of lightdm
> believe correctly updated utmp information is nice to have but not a
> requirement.  It is not the first time I meet this view, so he is not
> the only one believing utmp and wtmp are not really no longer important
> pieces of a Unix like system.

FWIW, lightdm upstream has corrected the issue with lack of utmp entries.
Perhaps this fix has not made it into the Debian package yet, though.

lightdm still doesn't create wtmp entries; but as TTBOMK 'last' is the only
command that cares about wtmp rather than utmp, and this is effectively just
a log, I think this is a lower-priority issue.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

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