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Using the 'finger' command to find a username

Purdue Engineering Computer Network

To find more information about someone if you know their name, you can try typing any of the following forms of the finger command at your Unix prompt:

finger lastname
finger firstname lastname
finger firstname initial lastname

This will give you other information, such as institute Department/School, Phone number, and Status, taken from the Purdue University Electronic Directory Service. It also gives you the e-mail address of the user, which should usually give you their username before the "@" symbol. If you get something like:

Name Dept/School Phone Status
curry michele antoinette sla (317)49-56002 student
curry david a sch engr adm (317)49-43561 staff
curry patrick alan che (317)49-53380 student

from fingering, you can get more detailed information about a specific user from the list by using the Email field. For example, if you were interested in just David's information, you could type the following to get more detailed information:


This will give you their office address, affiliations, home phone (if available), directory path, etc..

If you happen to know the persons username you can also look them up in the directory using the finger command and their username

finger username

This will output something similar to this:

Login name: bsmith                          In real life: bill smith
Office: ,                                             Home phone:
Directory: /home/pier/c/bsmith          Shell: /bin/csh
Affiliations:                                         Uid: 123456
Expires: June 15, 2009                       Login group: other (1)
Department:                                       Classification:
Authorized by: stacey

Another way to simply find out more information on a person, for instance an email address, is the ph command. You can use the ph command with any part of a person's name or with their username.

ph firstname
ph lastname
ph firstname lastname
ph username

These commands will print out information of any one with the name you specify. Using ph smith, however, probably will not print any results because there are simply to many matches for the system to print out, try being more specific with the name. The output of the ph command looks something like this:

             name: bill smith
          campus: west lafayette
     department: engineering computer network
            school: liberal arts
  home_phone: 555-3958
home_address: 101 first st.
                      : lafayette, in 46060


The online Purdue Directory can also be used to search people. Type in the first name and last name, and hit enter. The user needs to look under ALIAS for the required user name. Help for the on-line directory is available by typing finger

Last Modified: Dec 19, 2016 11:12 am US/Eastern
Created: Oct 30, 2007 9:34 am GMT-4 by admin