Linux History command with timestamp

History is a common command for shell to list out all the executed commands. It is very useful when it comes to investigation on what commands was executed that tear down the server or to find that one command you used in the past.

If the command line history could provides the date time of the commands being executed, that may really narrow down the scope of the user actions that cause the server malfunction. By default, history do not append with timestamp, but it is easy to configure it to display timestamp, you just need to set one environment variable HISTTIMEFORMAT.

HISTTIMEFORMAT takes format string of strftime. Check out the strftime manual to choose and construct the timestamp that suit your taste. My favorite is “%F %T “.


Execute history again and you will see the effect on the spot, bare in mind that the timestamp for command lines that executed at previous sessions may not valid, as the time was not tracked.

  994  2008-10-16 02:27:40 exit
  995  2008-10-16 01:12:20 iptables -nL
  996  2008-10-16 01:47:46 vi .bash_profile
  997  2008-10-16 01:47:55 history
  998  2008-10-16 01:48:03 . .bash_profile
  999  2008-10-16 01:48:04 history
 1000  2008-10-16 01:48:09 exit
 1001  2008-10-16 02:27:43 history

I would suggest you to put the export into ~/.bash_profile as well as /root/.bash_profile. In case you do not have .bash_profile, you can choose to put into ~/.bashrc.

Don’t mess up my servers! Your actions will be track!

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