PING(8) System Manager's Manual PING(8)
ping - send ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts
ping [-dfnqrvR] [-c count] [-i wait] [-l preload] [-p pattern] [-s packetsize]
Ping uses the ICMP protocol's mandatory ECHO_REQUEST datagram to elicit an ICMP ECHO_RESPONSE from a host or gateway. ECHO_REQUEST data-
grams (``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:
-c count Stop after sending (and receiving) count ECHO_RESPONSE packets.
-d Set the SO_DEBUG option on the socket being used.
-f 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 super-user may use this option. This can be very hard on a
network and should be used with caution.
-i wait Wait wait seconds between sending each packet. The default is to wait for one second between each packet. This option is
incompatible with the -f option.
-l preload If preload is specified, ping sends that many packets as fast as possible before falling into its normal mode of behavior.
-n Numeric output only. No attempt will be made to lookup symbolic names for host addresses.
-p pattern You may specify up to 16 ``pad'' bytes to fill out the packet you send. This is useful for diagnosing data-dependent prob-
lems in a network. For example, `` -p ff'' will cause the sent packet to be filled with all ones.
-q Quiet output. Nothing is displayed except the summary lines at startup time and when finished.
-R Record route. Includes the RECORD_ROUTE option in the ECHO_REQUEST packet and displays the route buffer on returned pack-
ets. Note that the IP header is only large enough for nine such routes. Many hosts ignore or discard this option.
-r 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 (e.g., after the interface was dropped by routed(8).
-s packetsize 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.
-v Verbose output. ICMP packets other than ECHO_RESPONSE that are received are listed.
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 run-
ning. 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. 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.
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.
ICMP PACKET DETAILS
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 indicated 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
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.
DUPLICATE AND DAMAGED PACKETS
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 net-
work or in the hosts).
TRYING DIFFERENT DATA PATTERNS
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 com-
mand line because the pattern that is of interest is at the data link level, and the relationship between what you type and what the con-
trollers 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 cur-
rent 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, 4.2 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:
o Not change it; this is what Berkeley Unix systems did before the 4.3BSD-tahoe release. In this case the TTL value in the received
packet will be 255 minus the number of routers in the round-trip path.
o Set it to 255; this is what current Berkeley Unix systems do. In this case the TTL value in the received packet will be 255 minus the
number of routers in the path from the remote system to the ping'ing host.
o Set it to some other value. Some machines use the same value for ICMP packets that they use for TCP packets, for example either 30 or
60. Others may use completely wild values.
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 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.
netstat(1), ifconfig(8), routed(8)
The ping command appeared in 4.3BSD.
7th Edition December 22, 1995 PING(8)