Whether you are a system administrator or a person who uses Linux as the daily drive operating system, you might encounter network issues once in a while. Even if you can do some configurations from the Settings window, command-line tools are more powerful and have more features. You can use these tools to easily configure, monitor, secure, and manage networks.
15 basic Linux networking commands
This post will guide you on the 15 basic Linux commands every Linux user should know.
1. The Ifconfig command
Whether you have used Linux systems for several years or are just getting started, you must have come across the ifconfig command. It is a simple but powerful command-line utility that you can use to manage and configure your network interfaces. You can use it to view IP addresses, turn ON or OFF any network interface, view MAC addresses and Maximum Transmission Units (MTU)
To get started with ifconfig, execute the command below on your Terminal.
That should list all the network interfaces on your system, including their assigned IPs, MAC, status, etc. A network interface’s status can either be UP or DOWN. Use the syntax below to set any interface up or down.
sudo ifconfig [interface-name] up
sudo ifconfig [interface-name] down
//To turn off the loopback interface (lo)
sudo ifconfig lo down
Note: Unfortunately, the ifconfig command is deprecated and doesn’t come pre-installed on newer Linux distribution releases. The IP command replaced it.
Execute any of the commands below to install ifconfig, depending on your distribution.
2. The ip command
The IP command is the latest and the default networking command available in most (if not all) Linux systems. It has replaced the ifconfig and route commands, and it comes with additional features like setting default and static routes, configuring IP addresses, and much more. The most popular IP commands are IP link, IP address, and IP route.
The ip link is a command used for adding, configuring, and deleting network interfaces.
To display all network interfaces, we will type the following command.
ip link show
The IP address command is used to show addresses, bind new addresses, or delete old ones. For example, We will type this command to view the IP address assigned to the network interface wlan0.
ip address show dev wlan0
If you want to have a detailed look at the routing table, use the IP route command. Just execute the command below.
ip route show
3. Nmap command
Nmap (Network Mapper) command is a free, open-source, and robust network tool widely used by network administrators, cyber security experts, and system administrators for various purposes. These include:
- Determining the number of live nodes/ hosts on a network. Therefore, you can use it to know the devices connected to a network
- Showing the OS and services running on a given device/host.
- Scanning for open ports on a device on the network.
Nmap doesn’t come pre-installed on most Linux distributions other than those focusing on security (e.g., Kali Linux, Parrot, etc.) To install NMAP execute the commands below depending on your system.
- Debian/ Ubuntu
sudo apt install nmap
- RHEL/ CentOS/ Fedora
sudo yum install nmap
4. The traceroute command
The traceroute command is a networking command used for troubleshooting a network. This command finds the delay and the pathway to the destination. This command does not come pre-installed in most Linux distributions. To install it, use the followings command.
To get started with the
traceroute command, use the syntax below.
traceroute <destination address>
Here, the ‘destination address’ is the IP address of the device/ host that you want to troubleshoot.
5. Ping command
The Ping command stands for Packet Internet Groper. If you have just finished configuring your network and want to know whether Device A can communicate to Device B, this is the command to use. You can use the Ping command to check whether a device is online and determine the response time. For instance, once we ping any host in a network and get a response, we conclude that the device is reachable and online. However, if we don’t get a response, we suppose the host is not up or blocked by a firewall.
The syntax for this command is :
6. The iwconfig command
iwconfig command is a Linux command used to configure the wireless network interface. It is slightly similar to the
ifconfig command (as you can see in the name) but dedicated to wireless networks (WIFI). Therefore, you cannot use
iwconfig to configure your ethernet interface. Some of the configurations that you can do with the
iwconfig command include:
- Changing the interface name
- Show and switch frequencies
- Show and change SSID
- Enable and disable monitor/ managed mode. Ethical hackers mainly use this feature to capture packets sent over a network.
To use this command, type the following:
7. Netstat command
netstat (Network Statistics) is commonly used to print network connections, routing tables, and interface statistics. You can also use Netstat to display the status of TCP and UDP endpoints in a table format. This command can display different types of network data depending on the command selected.
This command shows the list of all available options.
8. Telnet command
Telnet command utilizes Telnet protocol to communicate with the host on a LAN or internet. You can use telnet to manage and configure devices over a network like with SSH. One area that greatly uses the telnet command is SDN (Software Defined Networking).
Telnet uses TCP port 23. To install this tool in Linux, use the command below.
To get started with telnet, use the syntax below.
Type the username of the remote device, and it will prompt you for the password. After successful login, you can proceed to execute commands on the remote machine.
9. Hostname command
The hostname command is a networking command used to identify the operating system’s hostname. You can also use it to perform several network configurations, including;
- Obtain DNS information
- Set hostname
- Check the IP address assigned to your system
This command comes quite handy when setting up an active directory on your system. Below are some popular hostname command options.
This command checks whether the cable is plugged into a network.
To install this utility, type the command below.
sudo apt-get install ifplugd
To use this command, use the command below.
11. The Mtr command
mtr command is a networking tool used for diagnosing and troubleshooting network problems. The mtr command combines traceroute and ping commands. To install this command in your Linux system, use the following commands.
- Debian, Ubuntu
sudo apt install mtr
- RHEL, CentOS, Fedora
sudo yum install mtr
sudo dnf install mtr
Let’s look at a few examples of the
12. The dig command
The dig command stands for Domain Information Groper. Its primary purpose is to query and retrieve information from the Domain Name System, and it’s also used for verifying and troubleshooting DNS problems. Some of the most common DNS records are A, MX, and SIG records.
- A record: This record maps a hostname to an IP address. It links a domain name and the IP address webserver. For example, you have registered the domain name on GoDaddy, but the server is hosted separately on AWS.
- MX record: This record specifies the server responsible for handling the emails in place of the domain name.
To install the dig command on your system, use the commands below.
The default syntax for the dig command is:
dig [server] [name] [type]e.g.
dif mx example.com
13. The ss command
The ss (Socket Statistics)command is an impressive command-line utility used to examine sockets. It displays attachment measurements and showcases data like netstat. The default syntax is:
Let’s look at some of the popular ss commands.
- List all connections (both listening and non-listening)
- List only the listening connections
- List only TCP connections
or, ss --tcp
14. The Tcpdump command
Tcpdumd command is a powerful and broadly utilized command-line network sniffer. This command captures and analyzes TCP/IP packets transmitted or received over a network on a specific interface.
To install tcpdump on your system, execute the commands below.
Let’s look at some tcpdump commands that you can use.
15. The NSLookup command
Nslookup (Name Server Lookup) command is a powerful command-line utility used to carry out DNS servers’ queries and troubleshoot any DNS issues. The basic syntax for nslookup is:
This post has given you 15 basic networking commands that you should know. They are useful to both network admins and regular users who want to configure or troubleshoot network issues on their systems. Is there any command you feel we should have included in the list? Please let us know in the comments below.