There may be times when you need to forcibly log out a user from your Linux system, such as during system maintenance or when dealing with a malicious or unauthorized user.

If you have physical access to the server, you can disconnect the network cable and restart the system. However, this might not be feasible if you're working on remote servers via SSH. In such cases, you can force a user logout by terminating the user's active processes.

Steps to force a user logout in Linux:

  1. Open the terminal.
  2. Display a list of users currently logged in to the system.
    $ who
    user     :0           2021-01-23 16:23 (:0)
    shakir   pts/1        2021-01-23 16:31 (192.168.111.1)
  3. Identify and list all processes associated with the user you want to force logout.
    $ ps -U shakir
        PID TTY          TIME CMD
       2086 ?        00:00:00 systemd
       2087 ?        00:00:00 (sd-pam)
       2093 ?        00:00:00 pulseaudio
       2097 ?        00:00:00 tracker-miner-f
       2106 ?        00:00:00 dbus-daemon
       2126 ?        00:00:00 gvfsd
       2135 ?        00:00:00 gvfsd-fuse
       2136 ?        00:00:00 gvfs-udisks2-vo
       2149 ?        00:00:00 gvfs-mtp-volume
       2153 ?        00:00:00 gvfs-goa-volume
       2157 ?        00:00:00 goa-daemon
       2177 ?        00:00:00 goa-identity-se
       2186 ?        00:00:00 gvfs-afc-volume
       2194 ?        00:00:00 gvfs-gphoto2-vo
       2248 ?        00:00:00 sshd
       2249 pts/1    00:00:00 bash
  4. Terminate the user's terminal or other session processes.
    $ sudo kill 2249
    [sudo] password for user:

    bash is normally the process if the user is connected via SSH.

  5. Alternatively, end all processes owned by the user.
    $ sudo pkill -u shakir
  6. Verify if the user is still logged in.
    $ who
    user     :0           2021-01-23 16:23 (:0)
  7. ForceIf necessary, force the termination of any remaining processes associated with the user.
    $ sudo pkill -9 -u shakir
Discuss the article:

Comment anonymously. Login not required.