ping - Sends ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts
/usr/sbin/ping [-dfnqruvLR] [-b num] [-c count] [-i wait] [-l preload] [-p
pattern] [-s packetsize] [-tnumber] [-I interface] [-G[!] @addr1@addr2...]
[-V version] host
Specifies the size of the receive buffer. You can use this when speci-
fying very large packet sizes with the -s option. By default, the size
of the receive buffer is set to 48K or to the size specified by the -s
option, whichever is greater. The -b option overrides the default.
Stops after sending (and receiving) count ECHO_RESPONSE packets.
-d Set the SO_DEBUG option on the socket being used.
-f Floods ping. Outputs packets as fast as they come back or 100 times
per second, whichever is more. For every ECHO_REQUEST sent, a . (dot)
is printed, while for every ECHO_REPLY received a backspace is used.
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 (see Cautions).
Specifies the source route for packets to travel to the destination
host. The route consists of one or more node names or addresses. Use
the ampersand character (@) to separate multiple addresses. You can
specify up to 10 addresses.
The exclamation mark (!) indicates that this is a strict source route;
ping uses only the specified hosts for intermediate hops.
If any of the specified addresses is a hostname, a lookup is performed
and the protocol common to all addresses is used. If there is no com-
mon protocol (for example, one host has only IPv4 address and one host
has only IPv6 address), an error is printed. If all hosts have both
IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, IPv6 is used. You can override this option
with the -V option.
Waits wait seconds between sending each packet. The default is to wait
for 1 second between each packet. This option is incompatible with the
Sends packets through interface instead of using the interface
specified in the routing tables for the host.
-L Displays every 100th reply only and displays a message indicating lost
A packet loss rate of just 1% is enough to seriously impact UDP-based
protocols like NFS. This option enables you to measure loss rates and
to determine how bursty they are. All lost messages are reported with
the following message:
Lost sequence number(s) number
The number value is a single number or a range or numbers.
If preload is specified, ping sends that many packets as fast as possi-
ble before falling into its normal mode of behavior. Only the superuser
may use this option. This can be very hard on a network and should be
used with caution (see Cautions).
-n Numeric output only. No attempt will be made to look up symbolic names
for host addresses. This occurs only when displaying ICMP packets other
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 1s
-q Quiets output. Nothing is displayed except the summary lines at
start-up time and when finished.
-R [ICMP over IPv4 only] Records 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. Many hosts ignore or discard this option.
-r Bypasses the normal routing tables and directly sends 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 send ping to a local
host through an interface that has no route through it (for example,
after the interface was dropped by routed).
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.
Sets the timeout period (in seconds) for ping to wait before terminat-
ing. The default timeout period is 10 seconds. This option is only
useful with -c 1 option.
-u Displays the time in microseconds (three decimal places). In order to
ensure this microsecond precision, the NTP_TIME and MICRO_TIME kernel
options must be on. By default NTP_TIME and MICRO_TIME kernel options
are off. If these kernel options are off and this option is used, the
time is displayed to three decimal places, but in milliseconds.
-v Specifies verbose output. ICMP packets other than ECHO_RESPONSE that
are received are listed.
Specifies the Internet Protocol (IP) version number to enable the
resolver to return the correct address. If you are issuing a ping com-
mand to a host name (not IP address) that has both IPv4 and IPv6
addresses, by default the command is issued using the IPv6 address.
Use the -V4 option if you want to use the IPv4 address.
The ping command uses the ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol)
protocol's mandatory ECHO_REQUEST datagram to elicit an ICMP ECHO_RESPONSE
from the specified host or gateway host, where host is a network name or IP
address. ECHO_REQUEST datagrams (pings) have an IP (Internet Protocol) and
ICMP header, followed by a struct timeval and then an arbitrary number of
pad bytes used to fill out the packet. The operating system supports both
ICMPv4 and ICMPv6.
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 sent the ping com-
mand. Round-trip times and packet loss statistics are computed. If dupli-
cate packets are received, they are not included in the packet loss calcu-
lations, although the round-trip time of these packets is used in calculat-
ing the minimum, average, and 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.
ICMPv4 Packet Details
An IPv4 header without options is 20 bytes. An ICMPv4 ECHO_REQUEST packet
contains an additional 8 bytes worth of ICMPv4 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 IPv4 packet of type ICMP ECHO_REPLY will always be 8
bytes more than the requested data space (the ICMPv4 header).
If the data space is at least 8 bytes large, ping uses the first 8 bytes of
this space to include a timestamp, which it uses in the computation of
round-trip times. If less than 8 bytes of pad are specified, no round-trip
times are given.
Duplicate and Damaged Packets
The ping command will report duplicate and damaged packets. Duplicate pack-
ets 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
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 does not have sufficient transitions, such as
all 1s (ones) or all 0s (zeros), or a pattern right at the edge, such as
almost all 0s (zeros). It is not necessarily enough to specify a data pat-
tern of all 0s (zeros) (for example) on the command line because the pat-
tern that is of interest is at the data-link level, and the relationship
between what you enter and what the controllers transmit can be compli-
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 cannot 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
IPv4 TTL Details
The TTL value of an IPv4 packet represents the maximum number of IPv4
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 1 (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
The maximum possible value of this field is 255, and most UNIX compatible
systems set the TTL field of ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to 255. This is why
you will find you can use the ping command on some hosts, but not reach
them with telnet or ftp.
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:
+ Not change it; this is what Berkeley UNIX compatible systems did
before the 4.3BSD release. In this case, the TTL value in the received
packet will be 255 minus the number of routers in the round-trip path.
+ Set it to 255; this is what current Berkeley UNIX compatible 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
host that received the ping command.
+ Set it to some other value. Some machines use the same value for
ICMPv4 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.
Flooding and preloading the ping command is not recommended in general, and
flooding ping on the broadcast address should only be done under very con-
Specifies the command path
Commands: netstat(1), ifconfig(8)
Daemons: gated(8), routed(8)
RFC 792, Internet Control Message Protocol, Postel, J.
RFC 2463, Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMPv6) for the Internet Pro-
tocol Version 6 (IPv6) Specification, Conta, A., and Deering, S.