All About Fingering

The finger command
Keeping it quiet
.plan files
The finger command
The "finger" program makes information about users available across the internet.

Panix uses our own implementation of this program, pfinger. Features developed for this program are not necessarily available elsehwere.

One of the most common questions (FAQs) folks have always asked about "finger" is how to find out whether someone has been checking on you. Even now, we can't put it more succinctly than Hahn and Stout did in their 1994 book, The Internet Complete Reference:
> Is There a Way to Find Out if Someone Has Fingered You?
> No.
(Osborne McGraw Hill, 1994, p. 143.)

Here's how it does work:

If you type
finger [username]
at a UNIX prompt, where [username] is a valid login id at your site, or
finger [username@site]
where [username@site] represents a valid login at a fingerable site you generally see:
the user's "fullname" as it appears on the system
the user's home directory and login shell
the time and connecting host of the user's last login (in a form that tells you whether the user is currently on, and, if so, how long the user has been "idle")
Keeping it quiet
On Panix, you can cause finger to withhold this information by putting the appropriate marker file in your home directory. For this to work, you must allow your home directory to be searchable (x permission) for everyone, or at least for group "users" (which includes all Panix users) and "other". Enter:
touch .nofinger
chmod a+x ~
at a UNIX prompt and finger will behave as if the username didn't exist:
  Login Name: somebody       			Full Name: ???

To make this information available again simply remove the file .nofinger. (You can use the rm command from a UNIX shell prompt or the R(emove) option from the Files services menu.)

.plan Files

It is possible to create files of your choosing (called .project and .plan in your home directory) that will display a single line or a file of indeterminate size (respectively) to those fingering you. For these files to be displayed properly, the files must be readable by everyone and your home directory must be searchable by everyone. If you use the Setup program (type "setup" (no quotes) at a UNIX prompt) to create or modify these files, it will also offer to fix the permissions for you.
The Panix pfinger command also permits you to make a second file of information available to other Panix users who finger you. If you want to use this option, you should use your editor to create a file called .plan.local (note the two periods in the name) in your home directory with the information you want to display. Then, from a UNIX prompt, type:
chmod a+x ~
chmod a+r .plan.local
For full information on using the new finger program, try the command
man pfinger
at the UNIX prompt.

Last Modified:Wednesday, 30-Jan-2013 12:14:10 EST
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