I have some kiosk PCs that pretty much work like the Ubuntu guest session. The kiosk users home has a union filesystem mounted on top of it so the can't change anything but can still save files while working at the machine (and take them with them using a USB key).

Users sometimes leave the stations with private stuff still on the desktop. Because of that I want them logged out after - say - 10 minutes of inactivity (the union file system will be emptied on logout).

Any ideas if there is an existing solution (autolog only logs the user out of active terminal sessions).

  • Read up on these, find which one suits you best. * Ubuntu autolog. manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/quantal/man8/autolog.8.html * Ubuntu timeouts. /etc/timeouts. manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/lucid/man5/timeouts.5.html * Ubuntu timeoutd. manpages.ubuntu.com/manpages/intrepid/man8/timeoutd.8.html * With timeoutd, you can also limit what hours a user or tty can log in, set limit on minutes of use, and minutes of idle time. * And a [Google search for you](google.com/… – Bulrush Nov 6 '14 at 18:13
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    As I mentioned, autolog doesn't work. Neither does timeoutd because both rely on /etc/run/utmp. For utmp the X session is active all the time so it will never be seen as idle. timeouts is just the configuration file of timeoutd. Both work nice for terminal-only applications but not for desktop sessions. – mniess Nov 6 '14 at 18:41
  • So killing the tty is not enough? You need something to kill the Xsession? – Bulrush Nov 6 '14 at 18:47
  • If I do who|grep localhost: every line that contains localhost: I think is an Xwindow. That might help you at least find the Xwindow ttys. – Bulrush Nov 6 '14 at 18:53
  • @Bulrush: I can only repeat what I wrote above. For the reasons stated /var/run/utmp is not suitable to detect if an X user is idle. autolog and timeoutd would work for SSH users, but not for xsession users. – mniess Nov 6 '14 at 18:57

Frustrated with autolog, I wrote my own script too. It's on Github.

  • It's general enough for multiple users, on X sessions and TTYs.
  • I have included an Upstart job, assuming that the script is placed at /usr/bin/idlekiller

To set it up:

sudo apt-get install xprintidle
sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/murukeshm/scratchpad/master/linux/idlekiller/idlekiller.conf -O /etc/init/idlekiller.conf
sudo wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/murukeshm/scratchpad/master/linux/idlekiller/idlekiller -O /usr/bin/idlekiller
sudo service idlekiller start
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  • Way better than my hacked together thing, thanks! – mniess Nov 6 '14 at 23:05
  • @mniess thanks. I wondered whether I should post it, since for the case of a single-user kiosk, your solution is enough. – muru Nov 6 '14 at 23:21
  • I'll use my own thing for sure, but it's always good to have a more general solution. – mniess Nov 7 '14 at 14:42
  • @muru hey what do I have to end and how in your scripts to make it auto logout idle users exactly after 10 mins and warn them after 9 mins but before 1 min of auto logout, that they will be logged out if session stays idle. – Hrish Dec 17 '14 at 11:15
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    @Rishee I'd changed filenames in the Github code and forgot to update here. Rename idle-killer.sh to idlekiller (no extension) and idle-killer.conf to idlekiller.conf. – muru Dec 18 '14 at 5:52

I wrote my own script to do this. There is a tool called xprintidle that gives you the idle time of an xsession. You need to install it first

sudo apt-get install xprintidle

Then create the script, for example in /root/bin/idle_check.sh:


TIMEOUT=600000 # 10min = 10 * 60 * 1000

if [ $(xprintidle) -gt $TIMEOUT ]; then
    notify-send -t 60000 -i system-shutdown-panel-restart -u critical "WARNING" \
        "This machine looks idle and will be logged out in 60s.\nTo prevent this, move the mouse!"
    sleep 60;
    if [ $(xprintidle) -gt $TIMEOUT ]; then
        pkill -u matthias

I opened roots crontab to make it check every minute

sudo -i
crontab -e

and have it look like this

*/1 * * * *   /root/bin/check_idle.sh > /dev/null 2>&1

Works like a charm.

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