utmp, wtmp and btmp
- utmp maintains a full accounting of the current status of the system, system boot time (used by uptime), recording user logins at which terminals, logouts, system events etc.
- wtmp acts as a historical utmp
- btmp records failed login attempts
These files are not regular text files, but rather a binary format which needs to be edited by specially crafted programs. The implementation and the fields present in the file differ depending of the system or the libc version, and are defined in the utmp.h header file. The wtmp and btmp format are exactly like utmp except that a null value for "username" indicates a logout on the associated terminal (the actual user name is located by finding the preceding login on that terminal). Furthermore, the value "~" as a terminal name with username "shutdown" or "reboot" indicates a system shutdown or reboot (respectively).
These files are not set by any given PAM module (such as pam_unix.so or pam_sss.so) but are set by the application performing the operation (e.g. mingetty, /bin/login, or sshd). As such it is the obligation of the program itself to record the utmp information.
utmpx, wtmpx and btmpx
Utmpx and wtmpx are extensions to the original utmp and wtmp, originating from Sun Microsystems. Utmpx is specified in POSIX. The utmp, wtmp and btmp files were never a part of any official Unix standard, such as Single UNIX Specification, while utmpx and corresponding APIs are part of it. While some systems create different newer files for the utmpx variants and have deprecated/obsoleted former formats, this is not always the case. Linux for example uses the utmpx structure in the place of the older file structure.
Depending on the system, those files may commonly be found in different places (non-exhaustive list) :
/var/run/utmp /var/log/wtmp /var/log/btmp
/var/adm/utmp (deprecated), /var/adm/utmpx /var/adm/wtmp (deprecated), /var/adm/wtmpx
/etc/utmp (deprecated), /etc/utmpx /var/adm/wtmp (deprecated), /var/adm/wtmpx /var/adm/btmp (deprecated), /var/adm/btmpx
FreeBSD 9.0 introduced new files while adding support for utmpx:
/var/run/utx.active (replaces utmp) /var/log/utx.lastlogin (replaces lastlog) /var/log/utx.log (replaces wtmp)
Different commands allow users to consult the information stored in those files, including who (which show current system users), last (which show last logged in users) and lastb (which show last failed login attempts, Linux-specific).
- FreeBSD General Commands Manual : indicate last logins of users and ttys –
- FreeBSD Library Functions Manual : user login and logouts, and some system activities –
- Linux User Commands Manual : show listing of last logged in users –
- Linux Programmer's Manual – File Formats : login records –
- Solaris 10 User Commands Reference Manual : display login and logout information about users and terminals –
- Solaris 10 File Formats Reference Manual : utmp and wtmp entry formats –
- Solaris Trim wtmpx file