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When I use the command last -x reboot shutdown I get an output like this:

reboot   system boot  2.6.32-279.14.1. Tue Jul 18 22:03 - 03:20  (05:17) 
shutdown system down  2.6.32-279.14.1. Tue Jul 18 22:02 - 22:03  (00:00) 
reboot   system boot  2.6.32-279.14.1. Tue Jul 18 17:10 - 22:02  (04:52) 
reboot   system boot  2.6.32-279.14.1. Tue Jul 18 17:08 - 22:02  (04:54) 
shutdown system down  2.6.32-279.14.1. Tue Jul 18 17:08 - 17:08  (00:00) 

I cannot understand what these entries mean; for example, did a shutdown took place at 17:08 followed by a reboot at 17:08 which lasted 04:54? If so, what did happen at 17:10-22:02?

I want to understand exactly what all the time stamps mean (including the difference in the brackets). I tried man last and searching online but could not find an explanation. If someone could provide an explanation of the 5 lines above that would be very helpful.

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  • This is a good & reasonable question given the current state of the last command, and its documentation man last. But IMHO, this question should not need to be asked. As I read it, last does not adhere to the Unix philosophy. I suppose part of this applies to the vagaries of wtmp construction, but I don't understand why this is the only tool available to determine when a system has been re-booted or shut down.
    – Seamus
    Jan 27, 2021 at 9:33

1 Answer 1

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reboot system boot 2.6.32-279.14.1. Tue Jul 18 17:08 - 22:02 (04:54)

  • 04:54 is system uptime.
  • 17:08 is a system start time (1st boot time)
  • 22:02 is systems next start time ( 2nd boot time)

Which means you have restarted system on 17:08 and 22:02. The time inside the braces indicates the uptime of the system which is 4hrs and 54min.

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