How to Check the Last Reboot of Linux?

Are you a Linux enthusiast, system administrator, or just curious about your system’s uptime? Learning how to check the last reboot of a Linux system can be a valuable skill. Knowing when your system was last rebooted can help you track system performance, identify potential issues, and ensure everything is running smoothly. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to check the last reboot of a Linux system.

What is System Reboot?

A system reboot, also known as a system restart or simply a reboot, is the process of shutting down a computer’s operating system and restarting it. This action is often necessary to apply software updates, changes in system configuration, or to resolve issues that may have arisen during normal operation.

To check the last reboot time of your Linux system, we have several methods at our disposal. Let’s explore them one by one.

Why is Knowing the Last Reboot Important?

Understanding the importance of knowing when your Linux system was last rebooted can’t be overstated. Here are a few key reasons:

  1. Performance Monitoring: Regular reboots can help maintain system performance by clearing cached data and releasing system resources.
  2. Security Updates: Reboots are often required to apply security patches and updates. Knowing the last reboot time helps you ensure your system is up-to-date.
  3. Issue Identification: If your system experiences problems, knowing the last reboot time can help you identify if the issues started after a reboot.
  4. Uptime Records: Some organizations track system uptime for compliance or service-level agreements (SLAs). Knowing the last reboot time helps maintain these records.

Now, let’s move on to the practical steps for checking the last reboot time.

How to Check Last Reboot Using ‘uptime’ Command

The uptime command provides a quick way to check how long your system has been running since its last reboot. Open your terminal and type the following command:


This will display output like this:

15:46:08 up 2 days,  5:21,  1 user,  load average: 0.08, 0.04, 0.01

The information you need is right at the beginning: “15:46:08 up 2 days, 5:21” indicates that the system has been up for 2 days and 5 hours since the last reboot.

Finding Reboot Timestamp in ‘last’ Command

The last command provides a detailed log of past logins, including system reboots. To check the last reboot time, use:

last reboot

This will display a list of reboot entries, including timestamps and user accounts responsible for the reboot.

Checking Last Reboot via ‘who’ Command

The who command can also help you find out when your system was last rebooted. Run:

who -b

The output will show the last boot time:

system boot  2023-10-18 15:46

Analyzing ‘dmesg’ for Reboot Information

The dmesg command provides kernel ring buffer messages, which can include reboot information. To check the last reboot time, you can use:

dmesg | grep "booted"

This command will filter the output for lines containing the keyword “booted,” which typically indicates a system boot event.

Using ‘journalctl’ to Determine Last Reboot

Systemd-based Linux distributions, like Ubuntu and CentOS, store system logs using journalctl. To find the last reboot time, run:

journalctl --list-boots

This will display a list of boots along with timestamps. The first entry is the most recent boot.

Reviewing ‘syslog’ Records for Reboot Time

The /var/log/syslog file contains system log messages, including reboot events. To check the last reboot, use:

grep "systemd[1]: Started" /var/log/syslog

This command looks for the “systemd[1]: Started” message, which indicates a system boot.

How to Schedule Automatic Reboots

Regularly scheduled reboots can help ensure your system remains stable and up-to-date. To schedule automatic reboots, you can use the cron job scheduler. Here’s an example of how to schedule a weekly reboot:

  1. Edit the crontab configuration:
crontab -e
  1. Add the following line to schedule a weekly reboot on Sundays at 2:00 AM:
0 2 * * 0 /sbin/reboot
  1. Save and exit the editor.

Now, your system will automatically reboot every Sunday at 2:00 AM.

Monitoring System Uptime with Cron Jobs

To monitor system uptime and record it at regular intervals, you can create a cron job to capture the output of the uptime command. Here’s how:

  1. Edit the crontab configuration:
crontab -e
  1. Add the following line to run the uptime command every hour and append the output to a log file:
0 * * * * /usr/bin/uptime >> /var/log/uptime.log
  1. Save and exit the editor.

This will create a log file with uptime information, helping you track system performance over time.

Detecting Sudden Reboots with ‘auditd’

The auditd daemon can help you detect unauthorized or unexpected reboots. It provides detailed auditing and logging capabilities for system events. To set up auditing for reboots, follow these steps:

  1. Install the auditd package (if not already installed):
sudo apt-get install auditd  # For Debian/Ubuntu
sudo yum install audit  # For CentOS
  1. Configure the audit rules by creating a file like /etc/audit/rules.d/audit.rules with the following content:
a always,exit -F arch=b64 -S reboot -k reboot
-a always,exit -F arch=b32 -S reboot -k reboot
  1. Restart the audit daemon to apply the new rules:
sudo systemctl restart auditd

Now, any unexpected reboots will be logged in the audit logs, helping you identify the cause.

Is Remote Reboot Possible?

Yes, it’s possible to remotely reboot a Linux system if you have the necessary permissions and access. You can use SSH (Secure Shell) to connect to the remote server and issue the reboot command. For example:

ssh username@remote_server 'sudo reboot'

Replace username with your remote username and remote_server with the server’s hostname or IP address. You’ll need sudo privileges to execute the reboot command.

Analyzing Kernel Logs for Reboot Clues

Kernel logs, found in /var/log/kern.log, can provide valuable information about system reboots, especially if they were caused by hardware issues or kernel panics. To review kernel logs, use:

cat /var/log/kern.log | grep "reboot"

This command will filter the log entries containing the keyword “reboot.”

Troubleshooting Unexpected Reboots

Unexpected reboots can be a sign of underlying issues. If your system reboots unexpectedly, here are some steps to troubleshoot the problem:

  1. Check Hardware: Ensure that there are no hardware issues, such as overheating or faulty components.
  2. Review Logs: Examine system logs, kernel logs, and application logs for any error messages or clues about the cause of the reboot.
  3. Monitor Resource Usage: Use tools like top or htop to monitor system resource usage and identify any processes consuming excessive resources.
  4. Update Software: Ensure that your operating system and software are up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.
  5. Check Power Supply: Verify that the system’s power supply is stable and not experiencing fluctuations.
  6. Test Memory: Run memory tests to check for RAM issues that could cause reboots.
  7. Investigate Software: Examine any newly installed software or updates that might be causing conflicts or instability.
  8. Review Security: Check for signs of security breaches or unauthorized access.
  9. Contact Support: If you can’t identify the cause of unexpected reboots, consider seeking help from your system administrator or Linux community support forums.

Ensuring High Availability with Redundancy

In critical environments, ensuring high availability is paramount. Redundancy can help maintain system uptime even in the face of hardware failures or unexpected reboots. Consider implementing redundancy at various levels, such as:

  • Redundant Power Supplies: Use servers with dual power supplies to ensure continued operation even if one fails.
  • RAID Arrays: Implement RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) for data storage to protect against disk failures.
  • Clustering: Set up server clusters to provide failover capability, ensuring uninterrupted service.
  • Load Balancing: Distribute incoming traffic across multiple servers to prevent overloading and improve reliability.

How to Set Up Email Notifications for Reboots

Setting up email notifications for reboots can help you stay informed about your system’s status. You can achieve this by creating a simple script and scheduling it with cron. Here’s a basic example:

  1. Create a shell script (e.g., with the following content:

# Get the last reboot time
last_reboot=$(who -b | awk '{print $3, $4}')

# Email settings
subject="System Reboot Notification"
message="The system was rebooted on $last_reboot."

# Send the email
echo "$message" | mail -s "$subject" "$recipient"
  1. Make the script executable:
chmod +x
  1. Edit your crontab to schedule the script to run at regular intervals (e.g., daily):
crontab -e

Add the following line to run the script daily:

0 0 * * * /path/to/

Replace /path/to/ with the actual path to your script.

Now, you’ll receive an email notification every day with the last reboot time.

Avoiding Common Reboot Pitfalls

While reboots are a necessary part of maintaining a Linux system, they should be performed carefully to avoid common pitfalls:

  1. Improper Planning: Rebooting without proper planning can disrupt services and inconvenience users. Schedule reboots during low-traffic periods whenever possible.
  2. Lack of Testing: Before rebooting a critical server, test the reboot procedure in a non-production environment to ensure it goes smoothly.
  3. Unattended Reboots: Avoid scheduling reboots without monitoring or automated recovery procedures in case of unexpected issues.
  4. Failure to Notify: If you’re responsible for a server, notify users or stakeholders about planned reboots well in advance.
  5. Ignoring Logs: Always review system logs before and after a reboot to identify any problems or errors.

Leveraging Cloud Services for Uptime Monitoring

If you’re running Linux servers in the cloud, consider using cloud-based monitoring and alerting services. Providers like AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure offer tools that can help you track system uptime, receive alerts, and automate recovery actions in case of downtime.

Rebooting Specific Services vs. Entire System

In some cases, you may only need to restart a specific service rather than the entire system. Use commands like systemctl restart for systemd-based systems or /etc/init.d/ scripts for SysVinit-based systems to restart individual services.

Using SNMP Traps for Reboot Alerts

Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) can be used to monitor and receive alerts for system reboots. SNMP traps can be configured to send notifications to a central monitoring system whenever a reboot event occurs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I reboot my Linux system?

The frequency of reboots depends on factors like system stability and the nature of your applications. While Linux systems can run for extended periods, it’s advisable to schedule regular reboots for security updates and performance optimization. Typically, monthly reboots are a good practice.

Can I schedule reboots during low-traffic hours?

Yes, scheduling reboots during low-traffic hours minimizes disruption to users and services. Identify your system’s least busy time and plan reboots accordingly.

What are the risks of not rebooting regularly?

Not rebooting regularly can lead to several issues, including security vulnerabilities from unapplied patches, reduced system performance due to resource leaks, and potential instability.

Are there alternatives to traditional reboots?

Yes, alternatives like live kernel patching and containerization can help update or modify parts of a running system without requiring a full reboot. These technologies are especially valuable for systems that must remain online continuously.

How can I find out who initiated a system reboot?

To determine who initiated a system reboot, check system logs using commands like last, journalctl, or /var/log/syslog. Look for the user account associated with the reboot event.

What should I do if my system reboots unexpectedly?

If your system reboots unexpectedly, investigate the cause by examining system logs, hardware health, and resource usage. Consider running diagnostics to identify the root cause and take appropriate action to prevent future unexpected reboots.

How to check last reboot of Linux?

You can check the last reboot time of Linux using the “uptime” or “last” command.

Who last reboot Linux?

You can find out who initiated the last reboot on Linux by examining the “last” command’s output.

How to check Linux reboot schedule?

To check the reboot schedule on Linux, you can review the “cron” jobs and scripts in the “/etc/cron.d/” and “/etc/cron.daily/” directories.


Knowing how to check the last reboot of a Linux system is a valuable skill for system administrators and Linux enthusiasts. It helps you maintain system performance, ensure security updates are applied, and troubleshoot issues effectively. By following the methods and best practices outlined in this guide, you can stay on top of your Linux system’s uptime and performance.

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