User commands and logs

Circumstantial Evidence

All these logs and commands are a lot to learn. Fortunately, much of the information they offer is easy to read and understand.

In many cases, too, you only need one or two of these information sources in any given context. For example, if you suspect that an account password has been compromised, probably all you need to do is examine lastlog for login attempts at a time when the legitimate user was away from the keyboard. Similarly, a corporate administrator might want to use w to see whether the processes a user is running during office hours include PySol and Battle of Wesnoth.

In other words, it's all about choosing the right tool for the job at hand. Familiarize yourself with these logs and tools in a general way, and you will generally be able to know which tool you should use in any particular circumstance.

The Author

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist and a freelance writer and editor specializing in free and open source software. In addition to his writing projects, he also teaches live and e-learning courses. In his spare time, Bruce writes about Northwest coast art. You can read more of his work at

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