What does the plus sign (+), question mark (?) and period (.) mean in the idle column when I run who -aH? I tried Google, but the results are all about regular expression and wildcards.


I figured out that the period (.) means that user is currently active. Still unsure of the other two.

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1 Answer 1


From info who:

After each login name print a character indicating the user's message status:

`+' allowing `write' messages
 `-' disallowing `write' messages
 `?' cannot find terminal device

Extending the same info to IDLE, it seems ? indicates it cannot determine who much the time the user has been idle, and a . indicates the user (terminal) is currently active.

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