TRACEROUTE(1) Traceroute For Linux TRACEROUTE(1)
traceroute - print the route packets trace to network host
traceroute [-46dFITUnreAV] [-f first_ttl] [-g gate,...]
[-i device] [-m max_ttl] [-p port] [-s src_addr]
[-q nqueries] [-N squeries] [-t tos]
[-l flow_label] [-w waittime] [-z sendwait]
[-UL] [-P proto] [--sport=port] [-M method] [-O mod_options]
traceroute tracks the route packets taken from an IP network on their way to a given host.
It utilizes the IP protocol's time to live (TTL) field and attempts to elicit an ICMP
TIME_EXCEEDED response from each gateway along the path to the host.
traceroute6 is equivalent to traceroute -6
tcptraceroute is equivalent to traceroute -T
lft , the Layer Four Traceroute, performs a TCP traceroute, like traceroute -T , but
attempts to provide compatibility with the original such implementation, also called
The only required parameter is the name or IP address of the destination host . The
optional packet_len`gth is the total size of the probing packet (default 60 bytes for IPv4
and 80 for IPv6). The specified size can be ignored in some situations or increased up to
a minimal value.
This program attempts to trace the route an IP packet would follow to some internet host
by launching probe packets with a small ttl (time to live) then listening for an ICMP
"time exceeded" reply from a gateway. We start our probes with a ttl of one and increase
by one until we get an ICMP "port unreachable" (or TCP reset), which means we got to the
"host", or hit a max (which defaults to 30 hops). Three probes (by default) are sent at
each ttl setting and a line is printed showing the ttl, address of the gateway and round
trip time of each probe. The address can be followed by additional information when
requested. If the probe answers come from different gateways, the address of each respond-
ing system will be printed. If there is no response within a 5.0 seconds (default), an
"*" (asterisk) is printed for that probe.
After the trip time, some additional annotation can be printed: !H, !N, or !P (host, net-
work or protocol unreachable), !S (source route failed), !F (fragmentation needed), !X
(communication administratively prohibited), !V (host precedence violation), !C (prece-
dence cutoff in effect), or !<num> (ICMP unreachable code <num>). If almost all the
probes result in some kind of unreachable, traceroute will give up and exit.
We don't want the destination host to process the UDP probe packets, so the destination
port is set to an unlikely value (you can change it with the -p flag). There is no such a
problem for ICMP or TCP tracerouting (for TCP we use half-open technique, which prevents
our probes to be seen by applications on the destination host).
In the modern network environment the traditional traceroute methods can not be always
applicable, because of widespread use of firewalls. Such firewalls filter the "unlikely"
UDP ports, or even ICMP echoes. To solve this, some additional tracerouting methods are
implemented (including tcp), see LIST OF AVAILABLE METHODS below. Such methods try to use
particular protocol and source/destination port, in order to bypass firewalls (to be seen
by firewalls just as a start of allowed type of a network session).
--help Print help info and exit.
-4, -6 Explicitly force IPv4 or IPv6 traceouting. By default, the program will try to
resolve the name given, and choose the appropriate protocol automatically. If
resolving a host name returns both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, traceroute will use
-I Use ICMP ECHO for probes
-T Use TCP SYN for probes
-d Enable socket level debugging (when the Linux kernel supports it)
-F Do not fragment probe packets. (For IPv4 it also sets DF bit, which tells interme-
diate routers not to fragment remotely as well).
Varying the size of the probing packet by the packet_len command line parameter,
you can manually obtain information about the MTU of individual network hops. The
--mtu option (see below) tries to do this automatically.
Note, that non-fragmented features (like -F or --mtu) work properly since the Linux
kernel 2.6.22 only. Before that version, IPv6 was always fragmented, IPv4 could
use the once the discovered final mtu only (from the route cache), which can be
less than the actual mtu of a device.
Specifies with what TTL to start. Defaults to 1.
Tells traceroute to add an IP source routing option to the outgoing packet that
tells the network to route the packet through the specified gateway (most routers
have disabled source routing for security reasons). In general, several gateway's
is allowed (comma separated). For IPv6, the form of num,addr,addr... is allowed,
where num is a route header type (default is type 2). Note the type 0 route header
is now deprecated (rfc5095).
Specifies the interface through which traceroute should send packets. By default,
the interface is selected according to the routing table.
Specifies the maximum number of hops (max time-to-live value) traceroute will
probe. The default is 30.
Specifies the number of probe packets sent out simultaneously. Sending several
probes concurrently can speed up traceroute considerably. The default value is 16.
Note that some routers and hosts can use ICMP rate throttling. In such a situation
specifying too large number can lead to loss of some responses.
-n Do not try to map IP addresses to host names when displaying them.
For UDP tracing, specifies the destination port base traceroute will use (the des-
tination port number will be incremented by each probe).
For ICMP tracing, specifies the initial icmp sequence value (incremented by each
For TCP specifies just the (constant) destination port to connect. When using the
tcptraceroute wrapper, -p specifies the source port.
-t tos For IPv4, set the Type of Service (TOS) and Precedence value. Useful values are 16
(low delay) and 8 (high throughput). Note that in order to use some TOS precendence
values, you have to be super user.
For IPv6, set the Traffic Control value.
Set the time (in seconds) to wait for a response to a probe (default 5.0 sec).
Sets the number of probe packets per hop. The default is 3.
-r Bypass the normal routing tables and send directly to a host on an attached net-
work. 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
Chooses an alternative source address. Note that you must select the address of one
of the interfaces. By default, the address of the outgoing interface is used.
Minimal time interval between probes (default 0). If the value is more than 10,
then it specifies a number in milliseconds, else it is a number of seconds (float
point values allowed too). Useful when some routers use rate-limit for icmp mes-
-e Show ICMP extensions (rfc4884). The general form is CLASS/TYPE: followed by a hexa-
decimal dump. The MPLS (rfc4950) is shown parsed, in a form:
MPLS:L=label,E=exp_use,S=stack_bottom,T=TTL (more objects separated by / ).
-A Perform AS path lookups in routing registries and print results directly after the
-V Print the version and exit.
There is a couple of additional options, intended for an advanced usage (another trace
Chooses the source port to use. Implies -N 1. Normally source ports (if applica-
ble) are chosen by the system.
Use specified method for traceroute operations. Default traditional udp method has
name default, icmp (-I) and tcp (-T) have names icmp and tcp respectively.
Method-specific options can be passed by -O . Most methods have their simple
shortcuts, (-I means -M icmp, etc).
Specifies some method-specific option. Several options are separated by comma (or
use several -O on cmdline). Each method may have its own specific options, or many
not have them at all. To print information about available options, use -O help.
-U Use UDP to particular destination port for tracerouting (instead of increasing the
port per each probe). Default port is 53 (dns).
-UL Use UDPLITE for tracerouting (default port is 53).
Use raw packet of specified protocol for tracerouting. Default protocol is 253
--mtu Discover MTU along the path being traced. Implies -F -N 1. New mtu is printed once
in a form of F=NUM at the first probe of a hop which requires such mtu to be
reached. (Actually, the correspond "frag needed" icmp message normally is sent by
the previous hop).
Note, that some routers might cache once the seen information on a fragmentation.
Thus you can receive the final mtu from a closer hop. Try to specify an unusual
tos by -t , this can help for one attempt (then it can be cached there as well).
See -F option for more info.
--back Print the number of backward hops when it seems different with the forward direc-
tion. This number is guessed in assumption that remote hops send reply packets with
initial ttl set to either 64, or 128 or 255 (which seems a common practice). It is
printed as a negate value in a form of '-NUM' .
LIST OF AVAILABLE METHODS
In general, a particular traceroute method may have to be chosen by -M name, but most of
the methods have their simple cmdline switches (you can see them after the method name, if
The traditional, ancient method of tracerouting. Used by default.
Probe packets are udp datagrams with so-called "unlikely" destination ports. The
"unlikely" port of the first probe is 33434, then for each next probe it is incremented by
one. Since the ports are expected to be unused, the destination host normally returns
"icmp unreach port" as a final response. (Nobody knows what happens when some application
listens for such ports, though).
This method is allowed for unprivileged users.
Most usual method for now, which uses icmp echo packets for probes.
If you can ping(8) the destination host, icmp tracerouting is applicable as well.
Well-known modern method, intended to bypass firewalls.
Uses the constant destination port (default is 80, http).
If some filters are present in the network path, then most probably any "unlikely" udp
ports (as for default method) or even icmp echoes (as for icmp) are filtered, and whole
tracerouting will just stop at such a firewall. To bypass a network filter, we have to
use only allowed protocol/port combinations. If we trace for some, say, mailserver, then
more likely -T -p 25 can reach it, even when -I can not.
This method uses well-known "half-open technique", which prevents applications on the des-
tination host from seeing our probes at all. Normally, a tcp syn is sent. For non-lis-
tened ports we receive tcp reset, and all is done. For active listening ports we receive
tcp syn+ack, but answer by tcp reset (instead of expected tcp ack), this way the remote
tcp session is dropped even without the application ever taking notice.
There is a couple of options for tcp method:
Sets specified tcp flags for probe packet, in any combination.
Sets the flags field in the tcp header exactly to num.
ecn Send syn packet with tcp flags ECE and CWR (for Explicit Congestion Notification,
Use the corresponding tcp header option in the outgoing probe packet.
sysctl Use current sysctl (/proc/sys/net/*) setting for the tcp header options above and
ecn. Always set by default, if nothing else specified.
Use value of num for maxseg tcp header option (when syn).
Default options is syn,sysctl.
An initial implementation of tcp method, simple using connect(2) call, which does full tcp
session opening. Not recommended for normal use, because a destination application is
always affected (and can be confused).
Use udp datagram with constant destination port (default 53, dns).
Intended to bypass firewall as well.
Note, that unlike in tcp method, the correspond application on the destination host always
receive our probes (with random data), and most can easily be confused by them. Most cases
it will not respond to our packets though, so we will never see the final hop in the
trace. (Fortunately, it seems that at least dns servers replies with something angry).
This method is allowed for unprivileged users.
Use udplite datagram for probes (with constant destination port, default 53).
This method is allowed for unprivileged users.
Set udplite send coverage to num.
raw -P proto
Send raw packet of protocol proto.
No protocol-specific headers are used, just IP header only.
Implies -N 1.
Use IP protocol proto (default 253).
To speed up work, normally several probes are sent simultaneously. On the other hand, it
creates a "storm of packages", especially in the reply direction. Routers can throttle the
rate of icmp responses, and some of replies can be lost. To avoid this, decrease the num-
ber of simultaneous probes, or even set it to 1 (like in initial traceroute implementa-
tion), i.e. -N 1
The final (target) host can drop some of the simultaneous probes, and might even answer
only the latest ones. It can lead to extra "looks like expired" hops near the final hop.
We use a smart algorithm to auto-detect such a situation, but if it cannot help in your
case, just use -N 1 too.
For even greater stability you can slow down the program's work by -z option, for example
use -z 0.5 for half-second pause between probes.
If some hops report nothing for every method, the last chance to obtain something is to
use ping -R command (IPv4, and for nearest 8 hops only).
ping(8), ping6(8), tcpdump(8), netstat(8)
Traceroute 11 October 2006 TRACEROUTE(1)