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Linux "phonebook" replaces "phone"

Linux ‘phonebook’ command rejuvenates aging ‘phone’


The Linux phone” command, well-known to all CERN UNIX users, is based on the aging “Xwho” application which is marked for replacement because of software portability issues under Linux SLC5 and lack of support for the current legacy software.


The old Linux phonecommand is going to be removed on November 30th 2009 on lxplus and on January 11th 2010 on lxbatch and SLC4/5 PCs and replaced by the new phonebook command, currently available on SLC4 and SLC5.

As the new “phonebook” command has different syntax and output formats from the “phone” command, please update and test all scripts currently using “phone” before the above dates.


The new command searches the CERN database for user information and displays the output according to defined search criteria.


The “phonebook” command does not provide a substitute for the thorough functionality of the phone command and does not support all of the different output formats of the old command. The main purpose of phonebook” is to provide basic user information and thus cover the majority of user requests, including phone numbers, e-mail addresses, offices, login name, shell, and home directory.


A consultation of the “phone” power users at CERN during november 2009 has revealed a strong consensus to extend the functionality of “phonebook” to provide information about the computing accounts and this request has been taken into account.


From the command line, issue the “phonebook –h” or “man phonebook” to get information on all of the available options and output formats or consult the FAQ at


Technically speaking, “phonebook” is a full Perl application making LDAP calls (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, i.e. a protocol used to access a directory listing) to get the data. Please note that "phonebook" does not work outside the CERN network since is accessible from CERN network only.




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Tuesday, 01-Dec-2009 18:42
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