I am asking this question because, while there are many answers on the internet showing that who -a is an option, nobody explains how to read the output. If you could provide a link to an online site that explains this, that would be equally an awesome answer. Here is an example of what I would like to decipher:

[bo@hostname ~]$ who -a
                        Jun 17 03:47               590 id=si    term=0 exit=0
           system boot  Jun 17 03:47
           run-level 3  Jun 17 03:47                   last=S
                        Jun 17 03:48              4424 id=l3    term=0 exit=0
LOGIN      tty1         Jun 17 03:48              5503 id=1
LOGIN      tty2         Jun 17 03:48              5504 id=2
LOGIN      tty3         Jun 17 03:48              5505 id=3
LOGIN      tty4         Jun 17 03:48              5506 id=4
LOGIN      tty5         Jun 17 03:48              5507 id=5
LOGIN      tty6         Jun 17 03:48              5508 id=6
           pts/0        Oct 19 16:27             15250 id=ts/0  term=0 exit=0
bo       + pts/1        Oct 23 12:24   .         19776 (
           pts/2        Oct 23 13:07              8551 id=ts/2  term=0 exit=0
           pts/3        Oct 22 10:36              5813 id=ts/3  term=0 exit=0
           pts/4        Oct 10 09:06             13002 id=ts/4  term=0 exit=0

As you can find from man who

-a, --all
      same as -b -d --login -p -r -t -T -u

So let's look in details:

-b, --boot
      time of last system boot

this is string system boot Jun 17 03:47

-d, --dead
      print dead processes

this is strings with exit=0 at the end

-l, --login
      print system login processes

this is login ttys (strings with LOGIN in the beginning)

-p, --process
      print active processes spawned by init


-r, --runlevel
      print current runlevel

this is run-level 3 Jun 17 03:47 last=S

next one is

-T, -w, --mesg
      add user's message status as +, - or ?
-u, --users
      list users logged in

this two string

bo       + pts/1        Oct 23 12:24   .         19776 (

Hope now it is more clear how to parse this output.

  • 2
    Thanks. That is a good lesson on how to read a man page. Thanks. – djangofan Oct 24 '12 at 1:46
  • @djangofan and don't forget the more advanced info tool (info who) which sometimes goes in more details than man – George Vasiliou Dec 18 '16 at 23:11

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