Linux Logout user / Logoff User Commands

Posted on in Categories , , last updated November 9, 2013

I am a new Linux sysadmin. I am using Linux on HP server. How do I logout users from my systems? How can I forcefully logoff any user using bash shell on Linux?

A root user can logout and kill any user session forcefully using the following commands:

a) pkill command – Kill processes by name.

b) kill command – terminate or signal a process.

c) logout command – Logout of a login shell. This command can be used by normal users to end their own session.

logout command syntax and example

If you are logged in as nixcraft user and just wanted to exit a login shell type the following command or hit CTRL+D:
$ logout
You will be logout of a login shell session or secure shell session.

Task: Linux logout all other users

If you would like to logout other users, you must login as root user. Next you need to use the pkill command.

pkill command syntax

The syntax is:

pkill -KILL -u {username}

Warning: Do not kill root user or other system level user process. The following example, will kill all process on your server. Do not run the pkill for root user:
pkill -KILL -u root

To see list of logged in user type who or w command:
# who
OR
# w
To logout a user called raj, enter:
# pkill -KILL -u raj
OR
$ sudo pkill -KILL -u raj

See also

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

23 comment

  1. if i logged twice from putty as same user root then if i want to logout one root user then how i would do it.As same user logged twice then in that case if i kill process of root -user then both will get kill…so is their is any ip based parameter to logout one root ?

  2. Wow. What bad information. Lets say you have root logged in under two sessions.

    pkill -KILL -u root

    That kills all processes owned by root. Meaning most system processes.

    Let’s say you have one user in multiple sessions and that user is not root. Well, you just killed both sessions, even if that’s not what you wanted.

    This is terrible advice, and the article should be called “Linux Kill All Processes by User”, and have nothing to do with “logging off”.

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