Alternative to the finger Unix command

Every once in a while I stumble on this question on yet too many forums and Q&A sites:

Is there an alternative to the finger command?

The simple answer is yes! There is an official replacement for the original finger command and it’s part of the gnu coreutils package, it is called pinky(1) and it’s available on all systems that use the gnu coreutils.

The long answer is, no, there isn’t really a real replacement to the original remote enabled finger protocol along with the fingerd daemon and finger client. While it did make sense and has seen its fair share of usage in the early days of the Internet,  it has been considered obsolete and a security issue for way over a decade now, thus all of the modern Linux distributions and Unix flavors don’t install the service nor the client by default anymore, some don’t even include them in their repositories at all.

So now, most of the replacement tools and commands that one can use instead of finger are going to act on the local machine only and provide logged in user info only for the current host. One such tool is pinky of course and it’s output similar to:

$ pinky
Login Name TTY Idle When Where
shinnok Shinnok pts/0 2013-09-18 07:32 127.0.0.1
andy        Andy pts/1 2013-09-18 07:32 127.0.0.2

As you can see the output is pretty similar to the who(1) command(it was actually ported from who.c), nothing special about it. The other traditional alternatives to the finger command include w(1) and users(1).

Poll result – The best pentesting distribution is?

It’s about time to call the end on the current poll with 412 votes, Which OS do you currently use the most? , and draw the results:

The best pentesting distribution is?

  • Backtrack (61%, 252 Votes)
  • Other (18%, 74 Votes)
  • nUbuntu (9%, 36 Votes)
  • Network Security Toolkit (2%, 9 Votes)
  • General Knoppix (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Pentoo (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Samurai (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Helix (1%, 4 Votes)
  • STD (1%, 4 Votes)
  • INSERT (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Operator (1%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 412

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The new poll is:

The most useful skills in a pentester's arsenal?

View Results

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This new poll is multi-choice, with a maximum of 3 selections allowed. So go ahead, and pick the three most useful skills you think a pentester should posses.

Poll result – Which OS do you currently use the most?

I’ve been running this poll in the sidebar for several months now, Which OS do you currently use the most? and now it’s time to close it and draw the results:

Which OS do you currently use the most?

  • Windows (51%, 57 Votes)
  • Linux (39%, 43 Votes)
  • BSD (5%, 6 Votes)
  • Mac (5%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 111

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The new poll:

The best pentesting distribution is?

  • Backtrack (61%, 252 Votes)
  • Other (18%, 74 Votes)
  • nUbuntu (9%, 36 Votes)
  • Network Security Toolkit (2%, 9 Votes)
  • General Knoppix (2%, 8 Votes)
  • Pentoo (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Samurai (2%, 7 Votes)
  • Helix (1%, 4 Votes)
  • STD (1%, 4 Votes)
  • INSERT (1%, 3 Votes)
  • Operator (1%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 412

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I only included distributions that are currently at least available for download, since many of them have been discontinued and distros like PHLAK or Auditor don’t even have a homepage anymore.

"The only problem with troubleshooting is that sometimes trouble shoots back."