We have all of our network devices attached to console servers for out-of-band access. Occasionally, someone will log in as the local root user and forget to log out. Whoever happens to log into that device next via the console server will be greeted by an open console session.

I'm aware that you can configure idle timeouts under login classes, but that doesn't seem to be an option for the built-in super-user class:

# set system login class super-user idle-timeout 10 
warning: 'super-user' is a predefined class name; changing to 'super-user-local'

Nor can we assign the root user to a custom class:

# set system login user root class root
# commit 
error: cannot create user account: root
error: user name is used by a system account
error: commit failed: daemon file propagation failed

Does anyone have any clever tricks around this? We could certainly use a separate user account instead of root, but that still leaves open the possibility that someone will log in as root during a maintenance action and forget to log out.

  • First off, I don't believe this can be done via the CLI. I'd be happy to write you an event script that will check if root is logged in via the CLI and kick them off. But what's the use case for this, are you logging in over console/ssh'ing as root? Or are you logging in as a typical user and starting a shell? Dec 11, 2015 at 20:01
  • When logged into the physical console as root, the session never expires unless the logout command is issued. I want to enforce an idle timeout for all console sessions, but that doesn't seem to be possible for the root user. Dec 11, 2015 at 22:52
  • What timeout do you use for other users? Dec 12, 2015 at 14:24
  • Quick note, got even more feedback from a couple of colleagues. Looks like this feature will be added natively in 16.1 (it's aways off, but something to keep in the back of your mind.) Dec 14, 2015 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


UPDATE: As of 16.1 this is possible with the following configuration:

set system login idle-timeout n

Where n is the number of minutes.


For versions of code prior to 16.1, the following answer still works.

Setting idle-timeout for root directly from the CLI is not possible, unfortunately.

I wrote an event script that does what you need.

Basically, every 5 minutes it checks:

  • If root is logged in via console (verified by a "-" in the FROM section of "show system users")
  • If root is logged in, has it been idle for 15 minutes or more (checked in seconds, so 900 seconds).
  • If all of those requirements are met, issue "request system logout terminal $TERM" (uses whatever terminal is present in the information the script pulled).

Non-XML version of what is pulled:

jhead@VPN-EP1> show system users
 4:02PM  up 2:56, 2 users, load averages: 0.07, 0.02, 0.00
USER     TTY      FROM                              LOGIN@  IDLE WHAT
root     v0       -                                3:55PM      6 cli
jhead    p0                      1:09PM      - -cli (cli)

You can see a closer representation of what information the script parses by issuing:

show system users | display xml

The Script Itself: (filename: terminate-idle-root.slax)

 * Author        : Jordan Head
 * Company       : Juniper Networks
 * Version       : 1.0
 * Last Modified : December 13, 2015
 * Platform      : all
 * Description   : This event script periodically checks for root user sessions logged in
 * via out-of-band console that have been idle for 15 minutes or more, and terminates the session.

version 1.0;

ns junos = "http://xml.juniper.net/junos/*/junos";
ns xnm = "http://xml.juniper.net/xnm/1.1/xnm";
ns jcs = "http://xml.juniper.net/junos/commit-scripts/1.0";

import "../import/junos.xsl";

var $event-definition = {
  <event-options> {
    <generate-event> {
      <name> "5-minute-delay";
      <time-interval> "300";
    <policy> {
      <name> "terminate-idle-root";
      <events> "5-minute-delay";
      <then> {
        <event-script> {
          <name> "terminate-idle-root.slax";

match / {
    <op-script-results> {

      var $root_user = "root";
      var $idle_time = "900";
      var $from = "-";

      var $show-system-users-output = <get-system-users-information>;
      var $show-system-users = jcs:invoke($show-system-users-output);

      for-each ($show-system-users/uptime-information/user-table/user-entry) {
          var $user_check = ./user;
          var $idle_time_check = ./idle-time/@junos:seconds;
          var $from_check = ./from;
          var $tty = ./tty;
              if ($user_check == $root_user && $idle_time_check >= $idle_time && $from_check == $from) {
                  var $terminate_root_console = <command> "request system logout terminal " _ $tty;
                  expr jcs:invoke($terminate_root_console);

Applying the Script:

If the commit is successful, it means that the script's syntax is valid.

jhead@VPN-EP1> configure exclusive
warning: uncommitted changes will be discarded on exit
Entering configuration mode

jhead@VPN-EP1# set event-options event-script file terminate-idle-root.slax

jhead@VPN-EP1# commit and-quit
commit complete
Exiting configuration mode

Hope this helps, feel free to comment if anything is unclear and I'll be happy to update my answer.

Just a final note: @bob is right, that should work. I've just seen console appliances that maintain a connection, but allow access to the box itself so it wouldn't terminate. If you're doing a typical setup, his solution will work - but I've seen implementations where it wouldn't.

Adjusting Timeout for root Shells:

Just wanted to add one more quick thing someone brought to my attention.

If you're concerned with idle timeout on root user shell sessions (not CLI), you can jump into a shell and set:

set autologout=X  ## Where X is the number of minutes of idle time before session is terminated.

You add/edit the file /etc/csh.login


could always make sure you set the system to disconnect on logout

set system ports console logout-on-disconnect

and just have the console server timeout after X minutes.

  • Please be aware that this will only work on certain hardware, not on all JunOS boxes. Jun 7, 2021 at 14:11

There is also a global timeout option:

set system login idle-timeout 10

This will configure an idle-timeout for every user, including root.


If you are accessing it via console server, I would suggest following: Change root password, so no admin has knowledge of it or inform them that they should not use it any more.

Create new super-user class and set cli time-out to XX minutest Create new user that would be member of new super-user class and use it.

You can find more info on link: http://www.juniper.net/documentation/en_US/junos15.1/topics/task/configuration/login-idle-timeout-configuring.html

  • There are actually things that require the root user, not just root permissions. So this won't fix his problem, if he needs to do one of those things. Dec 12, 2015 at 14:25

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