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PING(8) System Manager's Manual PING(8)

pingsend ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts

ping [-DdEefLnqRrv] [-c count] [-I ifaddr] [-i wait] [-l preload] [-p pattern] [-s packetsize] [-T toskeyword] [-t ttl] [-V rtable] [-w maxwaithost

ping uses the ICMP protocol's mandatory ECHO_REQUEST datagram to elicit an ICMP ECHO_REPLY from a host or gateway. ECHO_REQUEST datagrams (“pings”) have an IP and ICMP header, followed by a “struct timeval” and then an arbitrary number of “pad” bytes used to fill out the packet. The options are as follows:

Stop sending after count ECHO_REQUEST packets have been sent. If count is 0, send an unlimited number of packets.
Set the Don't Fragment bit.
Set the SO_DEBUG option on the socket being used. This option has no effect on OpenBSD.
Emit an audible beep (by sending an ASCII BEL character to the standard error output) when no packet is received before the next packet is transmitted. To cater for round-trip times that are longer than the interval between transmissions, further missing packets cause a bell only if the maximum number of unreceived packets has increased. This option is disabled for flood pings.
Emit an audible beep (by sending an ASCII BEL character to the standard error output) after each non-duplicate response is received. This option is disabled for flood pings.
Flood ping. Outputs packets as fast as they come back or one hundred times per second, whichever is more. For every ECHO_REQUEST sent, a period ‘.’ is printed, while for every ECHO_REPLY received a backspace is printed. This provides a rapid display of how many packets are being dropped. Only the superuser may use this option.
This can be very hard on a network and should be used with caution.
Specify the interface address to transmit from on machines with multiple interfaces. For unicast and multicast pings.
Wait wait seconds between sending each packet. The default is to wait for one second between each packet. The wait time may be fractional, but only the superuser may specify a value less than one second. This option is incompatible with the -f option.
Disable the loopback, so the transmitting host doesn't see the ICMP requests. For multicast pings.
If preload is specified, ping sends that many packets as fast as possible before falling into its normal mode of behavior. Only root may set a preload value.
Numeric output only. No attempt will be made to look up symbolic names for host addresses.
You may specify up to 16 “pad” bytes to fill out the packet you send. This is useful for diagnosing data-dependent problems in a network. For example, “-p ff” will cause the sent packet to be filled with all ones.
Quiet output. Nothing is displayed except the summary lines at startup time and when finished.
Record route. Includes the RECORD_ROUTE option in the ECHO_REQUEST packet and displays the route buffer on returned packets. Note that the IP header is only large enough for nine such routes. If more routes come back than should, such as due to an illegal spoofed packet, ping will print the route list and then truncate it at the correct spot. Many hosts ignore or discard this option.
Bypass the normal routing tables and send directly to a host on an attached network. If the host is not on a directly attached network, an error is returned. This option can be used to ping a local host through an interface that has no route through it.
Specifies the number of data bytes to be sent. The default is 56, which translates into 64 ICMP data bytes when combined with the 8 bytes of ICMP header data.
Change IPv4 TOS value. toskeyword may be one of critical, inetcontrol, lowdelay, netcontrol, throughput, reliability, or one of the DiffServ Code Points: ef, af11 ... af43, cs0 ... cs7; or a number in either hex or decimal.
Use the specified time-to-live.
Set the routing table to be used for outgoing packets.
Verbose output. ICMP packets other than ECHO_REPLY that are received are listed.
Specifies the maximum number of seconds to wait for responses after the last request has been sent. The default is 10.

When using ping for fault isolation, it should first be run on the local host to verify that the local network interface is up and running. Then, hosts and gateways further and further away should be “pinged”.

Round trip times and packet loss statistics are computed. If duplicate packets are received, they are not included in the packet loss calculation, although the round trip time of these packets is used in calculating the minimum/average/maximum round trip time numbers and the standard deviation.

When the specified number of packets have been sent (and received), or if the program is terminated with a SIGINT, a brief summary is displayed. The summary information can also be displayed while ping is running by sending it a SIGINFO signal (see the status argument of stty(1) for more information).

This program is intended for use in network testing, measurement and management. Because of the load it can impose on the network, it is unwise to use ping during normal operations or from automated scripts.

An IP header without options is 20 bytes. An ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packet contains an additional 8 bytes worth of ICMP header followed by an arbitrary amount of data. When a packetsize is given, this indicates the size of this extra piece of data (the default is 56). Thus the amount of data received inside of an IP packet of type ICMP ECHO_REPLY will always be 8 bytes more than the requested data space (the ICMP header).

If the data space is at least eight bytes large, ping uses the first eight bytes of this space to include a timestamp which it uses in the computation of round trip times. If less than eight bytes of pad are specified, no round trip times are given.

ping will report duplicate and damaged packets. Duplicate packets should never occur, and seem to be caused by inappropriate link-level retransmissions. Duplicates may occur in many situations and are rarely (if ever) a good sign, although the presence of low levels of duplicates may not always be cause for alarm.

Damaged packets are obviously serious cause for alarm and often indicate broken hardware somewhere in the ping packet's path (in the network or in the hosts).

The (inter)network layer should never treat packets differently depending on the data contained in the data portion. Unfortunately, data-dependent problems have been known to sneak into networks and remain undetected for long periods of time. In many cases the particular pattern that will have problems is something that doesn't have sufficient “transitions”, such as all ones or all zeros, or a pattern right at the edge, such as almost all zeros. It isn't necessarily enough to specify a data pattern of all zeros (for example) on the command line because the pattern that is of interest is at the data link level, and the relationship between what you type and what the controllers transmit can be complicated.

This means that if you have a data-dependent problem you will probably have to do a lot of testing to find it. If you are lucky, you may manage to find a file that either can't be sent across your network or that takes much longer to transfer than other similar length files. You can then examine this file for repeated patterns that you can test using the -p option of ping.

The TTL value of an IP packet represents the maximum number of IP routers that the packet can go through before being thrown away. In current practice you can expect each router in the Internet to decrement the TTL field by exactly one.

The TCP/IP specification states that the TTL field for TCP packets should be set to 60, but many systems use smaller values (4.3BSD uses 30, 4.2BSD used 15).

The maximum possible value of this field is 255, and most UNIX systems set the TTL field of ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to 255. This is why you will find you can “ping” some hosts, but not reach them with telnet(1) or ftp(1).

In normal operation, ping prints the TTL value from the packet it receives. When a remote system receives a ping packet, it can do one of three things with the TTL field in its response:

ping exits 0 if at least one reply is received, and >0 if no reply is received or an error occurred.

netstat(1), ifconfig(8), ping6(8), spray(8)

The ping command appeared in 4.3BSD.

Many hosts and gateways ignore the RECORD_ROUTE option.

The maximum IP header length is too small for options like RECORD_ROUTE to be completely useful. There's not much that can be done about this, however.

Flood pinging is not recommended in general, and flood pinging the broadcast address should only be done under very controlled conditions.

February 26, 2014 OpenBSD-5.5