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TLDR: How is useradd --no-log-init actually used [in GNU/Linux [Debian]?

I read the command's man and info page about this option as: »user will not be listed in the lastlog and faillog files ⁄ output«. I know that the PAM module took over most of the actual login work. I understand the lastlog and the faillog commands, and I'm aware that via the latter e.g. the number of login attempts and such can be set.

I also know that bad login attempts are recorded in /var/log/utmp. This strengthens my suspicion that this command is »leftover« from back then before PAM module took over the job.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you look at the useradd.c source there is this bit that shows the following.

Assuming the command line switch --no-log-init was set, the faillog_reset and lastlog_reset functions are called:

if ((!lflg) && (getpwuid (user_id) == NULL)) {
                 faillog_reset (user_id);
                 lastlog_reset (user_id);

When lastlog_reset is called this bit will modify the lastlog file:

     fd = open (LASTLOG_FILE, O_RDWR);
     if (   (-1 == fd)
         || (lseek (fd, offset_uid, SEEK_SET) != offset_uid)
         || (write (fd, &ll, sizeof (ll)) != (ssize_t) sizeof (ll))
         || (fsync (fd) != 0)
         || (close (fd) != 0)) {

The above shows the file lastlog being opened for read & write (O_RDWR) followed by a if statement that makes sure the file was opened successfully followed by a seek within the file to a location and a write of the new user's info to the file. Afterwards the file is closed.

Based on this I would assume that that option controls whehter a user's UID is added to the lastlog "database" file and nothing more.

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