System Administration Guide: Advanced Administration

How System Accounting Works

Automatic accounting is set up by first putting the accounting startup script into root's crontab file. The accounting startup script can then be started automatically by the cron command.

The following overview describes the system accounting process.

  1. Between system startup and shutdown, raw data about system use (such as user logins, running processes, and data storage) are collected in accounting files.

  2. Periodically (usually once a day), the /usr/lib/acct/runacct script processes the various accounting files and produces both cumulative summary files and daily accounting reports. Then, the /usr/lib/acct/prdaily script prints the daily reports.

    For more information about the runacct script, see runacct Script.

  3. Monthly, you can process and print the cumulative runacct summary files by executing the monacct script. The summary reports produced by the monacct script provide an efficient means for billing users on a monthly or other fiscal basis.