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Network packets debug with tcpdump


When it comes to debugging network issues, analyzing packets is an essential part of the process. One tool that can help with this is tcpdump. Tcpdump is a command-line tool for capturing and analyzing network packets. In this blog post, we will explore how to use tcpdump to debug network packets.

Simple example

tcpdump -c ${package_number} -i eth0 -nn dst port ${PORT} -w FILE.packets


  • -i interface
  • -w write for file
  • -c count
  • -A prints out every packet’s contents
  • -n By default tcpdump will translate IP addresses to host names. -n forces it to just print the IP
  • -e Includes the MAC address that the packet came from
  • -p Filters to only packets to/from your computer’s IP address

Analyzing Packets with tcpdump

After capturing packets with tcpdump, we can analyze them using various options and filters. Here are a few examples:

  • To display captured packets in real-time, we can use the n option to display IP addresses instead of hostnames, and the vvv option to display more verbose output:
sudo tcpdump -i [interface] -n -vvv
  • To filter packets based on a specific protocol, such as HTTP, we can use the following command:
sudo tcpdump -i [interface] -w [filename.pcap] tcp port 80

In this command, the tcp port 80 filter specifies that we only want to capture packets that use the HTTP protocol on port 80.

  • To filter packets based on a specific IP address, we can use the following command:
sudo tcpdump -i [interface] -w [filename.pcap] host [ip address]

In this command, the host [ip address] filter specifies that we only want to capture packets to or from the specified IP address.

10 Useful tcpdump examples

Capturing Traffic on a Specific Interface

  • i any means all the interfaces.
tcpdump -i ens160
tcpdump -i any

Capturing IP-Host Specific Packets

tcpdump -i ens160 -c 5 host

Capturing Packets on a Specific Port

tcpdump -i any port 8000

Writing Packets to a File (w)

tcpdump -c 5 -w network_file_linux.pcap -i any

Capturing Packets from a Specific Protocol

tcpdump -i ens160 -c 5 -nn tcp

Filtering tcpdump Packets from Specific Source & Destination Host

tcpdump src

tcpdump dst

Rotating tcpdump Packets

tcpdump -i ens160 -w /tmp/network-%H-%M.pcap -W 48 -G 300 -C 100
  • C file_size (M) G rotate_seconds W filecount
tcpdump -G 100 -W 3 -w network-%H-%M.pcap port 19096

1 root wheel 384881 Feb 13 17:09 network-17-08.pcap

1 root wheel 2096619 Feb 13 17:11 network-17-09.pcap

1 root wheel 320744 Feb 13 17:13 network-17-11.pcap

Capturing Multiple Hosts with tcpdump

tcpdump src or src

Filtering Multiple Ports with tcpdump

tcpdump -i eth0 port 22 or port 9402

Filtering All Interfaces

tcpdump -i any

tcpdump -i eth0 arp or icmp and host

Tcpdump Command Options Summary

Tcpdump provides several options that enhance or modify its output. The following are the commonly used options for the tcpdump command.

Option Description
-i Listen on the specified interface.
-n Don’t resolve hostname. You can use -nn to not resolve hostname or port names.
-t Print human-readable timestamp on each dump line, -tttt: Give maximally human-readable timestamp output.
-X Show the packet’s contents in both hex and ASCII.
-v, -vv, -vvv Enable verbose logging/details which among other things will give us a running total on how many packets are captured.
-c N Only get N number of packets and then stop.
-s Define the snaplength (size) of the capture in bytes. Use -s0 to get everything, unless you are intentionally capturing less.
-S Print absolute sequence numbers.
-q Show less protocol information.
-w Write the raw packets to file.
-C file_size(M) Tells tcpdump to store up to x MB of packet data per file.
-G rotate_seconds Create a new file every time the specified number of seconds has elapsed.

TCP Control Flag



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