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Linux logged out a user automatically

Q. We have a few users who frequently forget to log out and I'd like to force them or automatically log out a user in case of inactivity detected. How do I force user to be logged out automatically?

A. BASH provides TMOUT variable. It is necessary for security reasons to have an inactive user logged out after a period of inactivity from Linux / UNIX ssh / telnet session. This can be accomplished by setting an environment variable TMOUT.

Automatically log out a user

Add the TMOUT variable to your /etc/bashrc file:
# vi /etc/bashrc
Set TMOUT to 300 seconds (5 minuets):
Save an close the file. Above config would automatically logout users after 300 seconds of inactivity. Please note that this hack only works with run level 2, 3 i.e. it will not work with GUI sessions.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Anil November 10, 2007, 2:35 pm


    Do i need to add this to every bashrc in user’s home dir to work ???


  • HarryWWC December 5, 2007, 12:57 am

    Hullo Anil,
    if you read carefully, you are editting the “/etc/bashrc” – this is the *system* (global) BASH Resource Configuration file. Hence, editting this file will make it affect *all* (subsequent) logons.
    You could (in theory) in your own .bashrc modify the value to something else (e.g. to 600seconds = 10mins) if you wished.

  • Prasad November 12, 2009, 8:36 am


    As it is mentioned, this does not work for GUI based sessions. Can someone please let me know how can I kill the GUI based idle sessions?


  • Geff February 1, 2010, 3:08 pm

    On an apparent contrary, how do you rcover from a situation where linux automatically logs a user out immediately after logging in onto the linux console?

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