MirBSD manpage: ping(8)

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


     ping - send ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts


     ping [-DdfLnqRrv] [-c count] [-I ifaddr] [-i wait] [-l preload]
          [-p pattern] [-s packetsize] [-T tos] [-t ttl] [-w maxwait] host


     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:

     -c count
             Stop after sending count ECHO_REQUEST packets.

     -D      Set the Don't Fragment bit.

     -d      Set the SO_DEBUG option on the socket being used.

     -f      Flood ping. Outputs packets as fast as they come back or one hun-
             dred 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 op-
             tion. This can be very hard on a network and should be used with

     -I ifaddr
             Specify the interface address to transmit from on machines with
             multiple interfaces. For unicast and multicast pings.

     -i wait
             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.

     -l preload
             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.

     -n      Numeric output only. No attempt will be made to look up 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 problems 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
             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 dis-
             card 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. If the -D or -T options are specified,
             or the -t option to a unicast destination, a raw socket will be
             used and the 8 bytes of header data are included in packetsize.

     -T tos  Use the specified type of service.

     -t ttl  Use the specified time-to-live.

     -v      Verbose output. ICMP packets other than ECHO_REPLY that are re-
             ceived are listed.

     -w maxwait
             Specifies the maximum number of seconds to wait for a response to
             a packet before transmitting the next one. The default is 10.

     In addition, the following option may be used for multicast pings:

     -L      Disable the loopback, so the transmitting host doesn't see the
             ICMP requests.

     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 calcula-
     tion, although the round trip time of these packets is used in calculat-
     ing the minimum/average/maximum round trip time numbers and the standard

     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

     This program is intended for use in network testing, measurement and
     management. Because of the load it can impose on the network, it is un-
     wise 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 arbi-
     trary 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 re-
     transmissions. 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 prac-
     tice 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 (4.3 BSD 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

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

     •   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

     •   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 pinging

     •   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.


     netstat(1), ifconfig(8), routed(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,

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

MirBSD #10-current            December 11, 1993                              3

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