W Command in Linux (See Who Logged in and What Doing)

As system administrator, you must manage the users who logged in into your Linux system. I am not sure why this command called 'w'.

But behind the simplicity of its name, w give us a valuable information. W give us the information about who is logged in into your machine and what they are doing.

1) Run w command

You can just type w on you console to run w command. Take a look below:

$ w
Default view of w

Here’s how to read that information :

  • User ; the user who is logged in
  • Tty ; how they are logged in
  • From ; from where they are coming from
  • Login@ ; when they are logged in
  • Idle ; how long they are idle
  • JCPU ; Total CPU time used by the user since login
  • PCPU ; CPU time of the currently running process
  • What ; process that they are currently doing

Please notice that the header of w is also displaying an information about the current time, how long the system has been running, how many users are currently logged on, and the system load averages for the past 1, 5, 15 minutes. This output is exactly the same with uptime command.

2) Don’t print the header

You may only want to focus on the w output. If yes, you can remove the header information. Use -h parameter to do it

$ w -h
w without header

3) Use the short format

-s parameter let you more focus only to User, Tty, From, Idle and What fields. Here’s a sample output :

$ w -s
Short display of w

4) Toggle printing the from (remote hostname) field

The original w command, by default does not print the from field. Using -f parameter, will show you the from field. However, your system administrator or distribution maintainer may have compiled a version in which from field is shown by default.

$ w -f
w from field

Note on Ubuntu Server and CentOS, using -f parameter will remove the from field.

5) Using old-style output

This output will prints blank space for idle times less than one minute. Here’s a sample output :

$ w -o
Old-style output

As you can see, the Idle, JCPU and PCPU will blank if the user is idle for more than 1 minute.

6) Print specific user

When you investigate your w activity, you may want to focus only to a specific user. To do this, put the username after w command.

$ w pungki
Print specific user

7) Display w version

If you want to print the version, use -V paramater.

$ w -V
w version


w is a combination from who command and uptime command. Basically, w give us an uptime output, and user logged in information. This two information is always needed by a system administrator to monitor his / her server. w also built-in in every Linux distribution.

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