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Why does the last command does not display hostname for some logins?

Posted on 2008-06-17
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Last Modified: 2013-12-16
The last command on one of our development systems does not display the hostname for some of our logins, and there is not a corresponding entry for a login in /var/log/messages.  What could cause this?
alex     pts/1        chico.pao.efront Tue Jun 10 14:47 - 17:39  (02:51)
alex     pts/1        chico.pao.efront Tue Jun 10 11:43 - 11:44  (00:00)
release  pts/4                         Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/2                         Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/0                         Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/12                        Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/3                         Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/10                        Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/11                        Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)
release  pts/7                         Tue Jun 10 05:40 - 05:46  (00:05)

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Question by:mikronixx
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Assisted Solution

by:Pétur Ingi Egilsson
Pétur Ingi Egilsson earned 200 total points
ID: 21808628
I looked thro my 'last' on openSuSE 10.3

If i open up a new 'xterm' from within Gnome (i didn't try any other window manager) .. then a new enrty is added to wtmp (the file used by 'last ) without the hostname.

petur@oxygen:~> last
petur    pts/2        :0.0             Wed Jun 18 00:07   still logged in   # gnome-console started from within X
petur    pts/3                         Wed Jun 18 00:06 - 00:06  (00:00)     # xterm started from within X
petur    pts/3                         Wed Jun 18 00:04 - 00:05  (00:00)     # xterm started from within X
petur    pts/3        :0.0             Wed Jun 18 00:04 - 00:04  (00:00)   # gnome-console started from within X

Even more interesting is.. if i use the -i switch after last i'll get strange results:

petur@oxygen:~> last -i
petur    pts/2        0.0.0.0          Wed Jun 18 00:07   still logged in  
petur    pts/3        230.73.9.0       Wed Jun 18 00:06 - 00:06  (00:00)    # I've never seen that IP before..
petur    pts/3        235.21.2.0       Wed Jun 18 00:04 - 00:05  (00:00)    # Neither have i seen this one
petur    pts/3        0.0.0.0          Wed Jun 18 00:04 - 00:04  (00:00)    

It turns out those weird IP's are Class D ip addresses, they are reserved for multicast groups ( Packet or message sent across a network by a single host to multiple clients or devices. )

It could be that 'last' simply ignores ip's from that range and displays the hostname as a blank field.

try `last -i` .. if the login source address is in the range of 224.0.0.0 to 239.255.255.255 you can (i think?) assume it's from your local computer.

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Author Comment

by:mikronixx
ID: 21808852
interesting:  i get the following with last -i:

release  pts/5        0.0.0.0          Tue Jun 17 09:58 - 10:13  (00:15)
release  pts/1        0.0.0.0          Tue Jun 17 09:58 - 10:13  (00:15)

i do not get multicast addresses.

no user should be able to login from the console.  This box is in a locked server room
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by:Pétur Ingi Egilsson
ID: 21809491
What is the purpose of the "release" user?
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Accepted Solution

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omarfarid earned 300 total points
ID: 21809659
I think hostname / ip address will be displayed if the user is connecting or logging in from remote system. For login from the same system (e.g. console) the hostname is not displayed and it may show the ip 0.0.0.0 which is the local host.
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Author Closing Comment

by:mikronixx
ID: 31468189
I am guessing what i am seeing is a fork from a script.  these answers work for me
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