Does anyone knows about utmp and wtmp handling?

C de-Avillez hggdh2 at
Mon Jun 18 01:38:34 UTC 2012

On Mon, 11 Jun 2012 19:37:26 +0200
Sebastien Bacher <seb128 at> wrote:

> Hey,
> That's a call for help,feedback,comment on lightdm bug #870297 [1]: 
> "Lightdm logins not being logged in wtmp"
>  From the comments and feedback that seems like an issue that should
> be fixed in the lts, there is a merge request proposed to fix it on:
> The lightdm project has been trying to avoid adding code "just
> because it's this way for 25 years" but trying to understand if
> things still make sense on a modern linux distribution rather and
> that's where we need your help.
> Does anyone knows if:
> - utmp and wtmp support is still important?
> - if those are "speced" or described in a reference document
> somewhere?
> - if the login manager is the right place to record those entries?
> Review of the previous listed merge request from people who know
> about the topic would be welcome as well
> Thanks,
> Sebastien Bacher

A bit late, but anyway.

Yes, I think it should be there. Unfortunately.

The most important issue, I think, is to find out/code/propose a
replacement for utmp. utmp is old, and is one of the old *IX utilities
that did not age well. When *IX moved from being a pure/mostly command
line system, there was nothing to replace utmp to find out who is
logged in -- or, better saying, nothing that really won the battle.

We now need a similar thing that will work on graphical environments.
We need to be able to know who is logged in, if a movie is being
played, etc. utmp does not cut it, but there is nothing I know of (a
bit dated as well, last time I looked for it was a few years ago) that
cut the mustard.

The issue we have is less and less programs bother about utmp; some
that do bother to write a login record in utmp do not bother to write
a "logoff" (usually not really a logoff, but an exit from the

FWIW, utmp is in Posix.


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