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I'm trying to monitor a user's activities on my Debian server. I found, after Googling that the acct package should help me log all commands and let me filter them by user.

I installed the package, some features seem to work (like the ac command). But the most important one for me: lastcomm shows no results:

root@myserver:~# ac
    total        7.75
root@myserver:~# sa
root@myserver:~# lastcomm

I believe it logs all activities in /var/log/account/pacct am I right?

root@myserver:~# ls -l /var/log/account/     
total 0
-rw-r----- 1 root adm 0 Aug 23 14:33 pacct
-rw-r----- 1 root adm 0 Aug 23 14:23 pacct.0

I also found sources saying it logs in /var/account/pacct but that file/directory doesn't exist.

I'm out of ideas here, so anyone?

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What happens if you run accton directly? I'm having a similar problem with Debian Lenny, but when I run /usr/sbin/accton /var/log/account/pacct, I get Operation not permitted as root. Still trying to get to the bottom of it, but /etc/init.d/acct masks this error message. So run manually, and see if accton kicks something similar out. – Chris J Nov 28 '11 at 19:42
Is this solved yet? – Tshepang Oct 10 '13 at 5:31

As you can see from the above output, pacct size is 0 byte. Start the psacct/acct service, doing something and try again.

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I started the service like service acct start and ran some commands as a user. It stays empty – Bart Vangeneugden Aug 25 '11 at 9:44
Make sure that your running kernel supports process accounting: grep -i process_acct /path/to/kernel/.config. – quanta Aug 25 '11 at 10:04
Hm, I'm having trouble finding my kernel. /usr/src/ seems empty. This is some rented VPS by the way – Bart Vangeneugden Aug 25 '11 at 10:29
Determine which VPS you are running with virt-what – quanta Aug 25 '11 at 10:39

Verify that the cron scripts have been added in /etc/cron.daily and /etc/cron.monthly. Then launch the daily script to begin the accounting.

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Cron scripts are active. I ran them, sadly no result – Bart Vangeneugden Aug 25 '11 at 9:45

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