10 basic examples of linux netstat command

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Netstat

Netstat is a command line utility that can be used to list out all the network (socket) connections on a system. It lists out all the tcp, udp socket connections and the unix socket connections. Apart from connected sockets it can also list listening sockets that are waiting for incoming connections. So by verifying an open port 80 you can confirm if a web server is running on the system or not. This makes it a very useful tool for network and system administrators. So in this tutorial we shall be checking out few examples of how to use netstat to find information about network connections and open ports on a system.

Here is a quick intro to netstat from the man pages

netstat - Print network connections, routing tables, interface statistics, masquerade connections, and multicast memberships

1. List out all connections

The first and most simple command is to list out all the current connections. Simply run the netstat command with the a option.

$ netstat -a

Active Internet connections (servers and established)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State      
tcp        0      0 enlightened:domain      *:*                     LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 localhost:ipp           *:*                     LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 enlightened.local:54750 li240-5.members.li:http ESTABLISHED
tcp        0      0 enlightened.local:49980 del01s07-in-f14.1:https ESTABLISHED
tcp6       0      0 ip6-localhost:ipp       [::]:*                  LISTEN     
udp        0      0 enlightened:domain      *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:bootpc                *:*                                
udp        0      0 enlightened.local:ntp   *:*                                
udp        0      0 localhost:ntp           *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:ntp                   *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:58570                 *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:mdns                  *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:49459                 *:*                                
udp6       0      0 fe80::216:36ff:fef8:ntp [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 ip6-localhost:ntp       [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 [::]:ntp                [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 [::]:mdns               [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 [::]:63811              [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 [::]:54952              [::]:*                             
Active UNIX domain sockets (servers and established)
Proto RefCnt Flags       Type       State         I-Node   Path
unix  2      [ ACC ]     STREAM     LISTENING     12403    @/tmp/dbus-IDgfj3UGXX
unix  2      [ ACC ]     STREAM     LISTENING     40202    @/dbus-vfs-daemon/socket-6nUC6CCx






The above command shows all connections from different protocols like tcp, udp and unix sockets. However this is not quite useful. Administrators often want to pick out specific connections based on protocols or port numbers for example.

2. List only TCP or UDP connections

To list out only tcp connections use the t options.

$ netstat -at
Active Internet connections (servers and established)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State      
tcp        0      0 enlightened:domain      *:*                     LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 localhost:ipp           *:*                     LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 enlightened.local:36310 del01s07-in-f24.1:https ESTABLISHED
tcp        0      0 enlightened.local:45038 a96-17-181-10.depl:http ESTABLISHED
tcp        0      0 enlightened.local:37892 ABTS-North-Static-:http ESTABLISHED
.....

Similarly to list out only udp connections use the u option.

$ netstat -au
Active Internet connections (servers and established)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State      
udp        0      0 *:34660                 *:*                                
udp        0      0 enlightened:domain      *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:bootpc                *:*                                
udp        0      0 enlightened.local:ntp   *:*                                
udp        0      0 localhost:ntp           *:*                                
udp        0      0 *:ntp                   *:*                                
udp6       0      0 fe80::216:36ff:fef8:ntp [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 ip6-localhost:ntp       [::]:*                             
udp6       0      0 [::]:ntp                [::]:*

The above output shows both ipv4 and ipv6 connections.

3. Disable reverse dns lookup for faster output

By default, the netstat command tries to find out the hostname of each ip address in the connection by doing a reverse dns lookup. This slows down the output. If you do not need to know the host name and just the ip address is sufficient then suppress the hostname lookup with the n option.

$ netstat -ant
Active Internet connections (servers and established)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State      
tcp        0      0 127.0.1.1:53            0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 127.0.0.1:631           0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 192.168.1.2:49058       173.255.230.5:80        ESTABLISHED
tcp        0      0 192.168.1.2:33324       173.194.36.117:443      ESTABLISHED
tcp6       0      0 ::1:631                 :::*                    LISTEN

The above command shows ALL TCP connections with NO dns resolution. Got it ? Good.

4. List out only listening connections

Any network daemon/service keeps an open port to listen for incoming connections. These too are like socket connections and are listed out by netstat. To view only listening ports use the l options.

$ netstat -tnl
Active Internet connections (only servers)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State      
tcp        0      0 127.0.1.1:53            0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN     
tcp        0      0 127.0.0.1:631           0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN     
tcp6       0      0 ::1:631                 :::*                    LISTEN

Now we can see only listening tcp ports/connections. If you want to see all listening ports, remove the t option. If you want to see only listening udp ports use the u option instead of t.
Make sure to remove the 'a' option, otherwise all connections would get listed and not just the listening connections.

5. Get process name/pid and user id

When viewing the open/listening ports and connections, its often useful to know the process name/pid which has opened that port or connection. For example the Apache httpd server opens port 80. So if you want to check whether any http server is running or not, or which http server is running, apache or nginx, then track down the process name.

The process details are made available by the 'p' option.

~$ sudo netstat -nlpt
Active Internet connections (only servers)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State       PID/Program name
tcp        0      0 127.0.1.1:53            0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      1144/dnsmasq    
tcp        0      0 127.0.0.1:631           0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      661/cupsd       
tcp6       0      0 ::1:631                 :::*                    LISTEN      661/cupsd

When using the p option, netstat must be run with root privileges, otherwise it cannot detect the pids of processes running with root privileges and most services like http and ftp often run with root privileges.

Along with process name/pid its even more useful to get the username/uid owning that particular process. Use the e option along with the p option to get the username too.

$ sudo netstat -ltpe
Active Internet connections (only servers)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State       User       Inode       PID/Program name
tcp        0      0 enlightened:domain      *:*                     LISTEN      root       11090       1144/dnsmasq    
tcp        0      0 localhost:ipp           *:*                     LISTEN      root       9755        661/cupsd       
tcp6       0      0 ip6-localhost:ipp       [::]:*                  LISTEN      root       9754        661/cupsd

The above example lists out Listening connections of Tcp type with Process information and Extended information.
The extended information contains the username and inode of the process. This is a useful command for network administrators.

Note - If you use the n option with the e option, the uid would be listed and not the username.

6. Print statistics

The netstat command can also print out network statistics like total number of packets received and transmitted by protocol type and so on.

To list out statistics of all packet types

$ netstat -s
Ip:
    32797 total packets received
    0 forwarded
    0 incoming packets discarded
    32795 incoming packets delivered
    29115 requests sent out
    60 outgoing packets dropped
Icmp:
    125 ICMP messages received
    0 input ICMP message failed.
    ICMP input histogram:
        destination unreachable: 125
    125 ICMP messages sent
    0 ICMP messages failed
    ICMP output histogram:
        destination unreachable: 125
... OUTPUT TRUNCATED ...

To print out statistics of only select protocols like TCP or UDP use the corresponding options like t and u along with the s option. Simple!

7. Display kernel routing information

The kernel routing information can be printed with the r option. It is the same output as given by the route command. We also use the n option to disable the hostname lookup.

$ netstat -rn
Kernel IP routing table
Destination     Gateway         Genmask         Flags   MSS Window  irtt Iface
0.0.0.0         192.168.1.1     0.0.0.0         UG        0 0          0 eth0
192.168.1.0     0.0.0.0         255.255.255.0   U         0 0          0 eth0

8. Print network interfaces

The netstat command can also print out the information about the network interfaces. The i option does the task.

$ netstat -i
Kernel Interface table
Iface   MTU Met   RX-OK RX-ERR RX-DRP RX-OVR    TX-OK TX-ERR TX-DRP TX-OVR Flg
eth0       1500 0     31611      0      0 0         27503      0      0      0 BMRU
lo        65536 0      2913      0      0 0          2913      0      0      0 LRU

The above output contains information in a very raw format. To get a more human friendly version of the output use the e option along with i.

$ netstat -ie
Kernel Interface table
eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:16:36:f8:b2:64  
          inet addr:192.168.1.2  Bcast:192.168.1.255  Mask:255.255.255.0
          inet6 addr: fe80::216:36ff:fef8:b264/64 Scope:Link
          UP BROADCAST RUNNING MULTICAST  MTU:1500  Metric:1
          RX packets:31682 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:27573 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000 
          RX bytes:29637117 (29.6 MB)  TX bytes:4590583 (4.5 MB)
          Interrupt:18 Memory:da000000-da020000 

lo        Link encap:Local Loopback  
          inet addr:127.0.0.1  Mask:255.0.0.0
          inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
          UP LOOPBACK RUNNING  MTU:65536  Metric:1
          RX packets:2921 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
          TX packets:2921 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
          collisions:0 txqueuelen:0 
          RX bytes:305297 (305.2 KB)  TX bytes:305297 (305.2 KB)

The above output is similar to the output shown by the ifconfig command.

9. Get netstat output continuously

Netstat can output connection information continuously with the c option.

$ netstat -ct

The above command will output tcp connections continuously.

10. Display multicast group information

The g option will display the multicast group information for IPv4 and IPv6 protocols.

$ netstat -g
IPv6/IPv4 Group Memberships
Interface       RefCnt Group
--------------- ------ ---------------------
lo              1      all-systems.mcast.net
eth0            1      224.0.0.251
eth0            1      all-systems.mcast.net
lo              1      ip6-allnodes
lo              1      ff01::1
eth0            1      ff02::fb
eth0            1      ff02::1:fff8:b264
eth0            1      ip6-allnodes
eth0            1      ff01::1
wlan0           1      ip6-allnodes
wlan0           1      ff01::1

More examples of netstat command

Okay, we covered the basic examples of netstat command above. Now its time to do some geek stuff with style.

Print active connections

Active socket connections are in "ESTABLISHED" state. So to get all current active connections use netstat with grep as follows

$ netstat -atnp | grep ESTA
(Not all processes could be identified, non-owned process info
 will not be shown, you would have to be root to see it all.)
tcp        0      0 192.168.1.2:49156       173.255.230.5:80        ESTABLISHED 1691/chrome     
tcp        0      0 192.168.1.2:33324       173.194.36.117:443      ESTABLISHED 1691/chrome

To watch a continous list of active connections, use the watch command along with netstat and grep

$ watch -d -n0 "netstat -atnp | grep ESTA"

Check if a service is running

If you want to check if a server like http,smtp or ntp is running or not, use grep again.

$ sudo netstat -aple | grep ntp
udp        0      0 enlightened.local:ntp   *:*                                 root       17430       1789/ntpd       
udp        0      0 localhost:ntp           *:*                                 root       17429       1789/ntpd       
udp        0      0 *:ntp                   *:*                                 root       17422       1789/ntpd       
udp6       0      0 fe80::216:36ff:fef8:ntp [::]:*                              root       17432       1789/ntpd       
udp6       0      0 ip6-localhost:ntp       [::]:*                              root       17431       1789/ntpd       
udp6       0      0 [::]:ntp                [::]:*                              root       17423       1789/ntpd       
unix  2      [ ]         DGRAM                    17418    1789/ntpd

So we found that ntp server is running. Grep for http or smtp or whatever you are looking for.

Well, that was most of what netstat is used for. If you are looking for more advanced information or want to dig deeper, read up the netstat manual (man netstat).

And do leave your feedback and suggestions in the comments box below.

Last Updated On : 12th November 2013

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About Silver Moon

Php developer, blogger and Linux enthusiast. He can be reached at m00n.silv3r@gmail.com. Or find him on

  • Seth @ FBT

    Hey Silver Moon, Thanks for sharing the basics about Netsat commands. Your post was very easy to understand and I’m sure many will find it useful. Your readers can also take a look at our website (http://www.fireboxtraining.com/linux) for more advanced linux tutorials.

  • duskokoscica

    Ok this is nice, but I would like to know few thing about netstat command. What are the connections taht netsat will show with Linux. I know that for Windows it will show some connections but not’ all of th hem. ww have al been wtnes of that spy software from …. i have seen some nice interviev with Stelman on RT about software security. how you seen that

  • Prashant

    That was very informative, thanks.

  • Vijay Kanta

    Thanks a lot for this information. I too am a LAMP guy and found your stuff inspiring. Good goin!

  • Sania

    In terms of ss, I still prefer nestat due to its ability to show me routing table as well as network interfaces. Instead of typing route or ifconfig, I simply use netstat. Personal preference I guess.

    • BasketCase

      ifconfig and route are both also obsolete. The replacement for both is the ip command. ip link and ip addr do what ifconfig did and ip route does what route did.

      The legacy net-tools are not capable of providing modern functions like having multiple IP addresses on an interface (yes, I know you can make alias interfaces with ifconfig but with ip addr add you don’t need to make an extra interface).

  • BasketCase

    Netstat (and the other legacy net-tools programs) were replaced in Linux more than 10 years ago. The correct command is now ss. The options are mostly the same but the outputs are different (and more complete).

    • http://www.binarytides.com/ Silver Moon

      I prefer netstat because of its simplicity

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