ping -- send ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts


ping [ -adfLmnoqRrtv ] [ -c count ] [ -I ip-addr ] [ -i wait ]
   [-w maxwait ] [ -l preload ] [ -p pattern ]
   [ -S src-addr ] [ -s packetsize ] [ -T ttl ]
   -h host | host | [!]@hop1@hop2@hop3...[@|:]dst


ping uses the ICMP protocol's mandatory ECHO_REQUEST datagram to elicit an ICMP ECHO_RESPONSE from a host or gateway. ECHO_REQUEST datagrams (``pings'') have an IP and ICMP header, followed by a struct timeval and an arbitrary number of ``pad'' bytes used to fill out the packet. The options are as follows:

(Audible). Include a bell character (ASCII 0x07) in the output when any packet is received.

-c count
Stop after sending (and receiving) count ECHO_RESPONSE packets.

Set the SO_DEBUG option on the socket being used.

Flood ping. Outputs packets as fast as they come back or one hundred 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 root may use this option. This can be very hard on a network and should be used with caution.

-h host
Use host as the target system. This is equivalent to specifying host as the last argument on the command line and is provided as an alternate syntax for compatibility with other systems.

-I ip-addr
When sending multicast datagrams, use the interface with address ip-addr as the originating interface.

-i wait
Wait wait seconds between sending each packet. The default is to wait for one second between each packet. This option is incompatible with the -f option.

wait can be expressed in decimal, with non-integer values supported for SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.6 and later releases. For example, setting wait to 1.5 sends a packet every 1.5 seconds. Only the root user is allowed to request wait values of less than 1.0 seconds.

Causes loopback of multicast datagrams to be disabled.

-l preload
If preload is specified, ping sends that many packets as fast as possible before falling into its normal mode of behavior.

Sends an ICMP subnet-mask request to the specified address. This is useful for checking the configuration of a particular host.

Numeric output only: No attempt will be made to look up symbolic names for host addresses.

Exit successfully after receiving one reply packet.

-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.

Quiet output: Nothing is displayed except the summary lines at startup time and when finished.

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. Many hosts ignore or discard this option.

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 (for example, after the interface was dropped by routed(ADMN)).

-S src-addr
Use src-addr as the source address in outgoing packets. src-addr must be one of the local machine's interface addresses or an error is returned and nothing is sent. Use this option on hosts with more than one IP address to force the source address to be something other than the IP address on which the probe packet is sent. -S is used for ICMP packets whereas -I is used only for multicast addresses.

-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.

-T ttl
Set the IP time-to-live (TTL) in outgoing datagrams to ttl.

Sends an ICMP time-stamp request to the specified address. This is useful for checking the configuration of a particular host.

Verbose output: ICMP packets other than ECHO_RESPONSE that are received are listed.

-w maxwait
Specify a timeout, in seconds, before ping exits, regardless of how many packets have been sent or received.

maxwait can be expressed in decimal. Only the root user is allowed to request a maxwait value of less than 0.25 seconds.

The [!]@hop1@hop2@hop3:dest argument defines a source route. If it is prefixed with the ``!'' character, it is interpreted as a strict source route. Otherwise it is interpreted as a loose source route.

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 calculation, although the round-trip time of these packets is used in calculating the minimum/average/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.

ping uses name resolution services (DNS, BIND, or NIS through the resolver(SLIB) library) to determine the hostname for received reply packets. Consequently, ping's results can be affected by name service problems. Use the -n flag to bypass name resolution for received reply packets if name service problems are suspected.

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.

ICMP packet details

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 arbitrary amount of data. When a packetsize is given, this indicated 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.

Duplicate and damaged packets

ping reports duplicate and damaged packets. Duplicate packets 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 the hosts).

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 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 is not 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 not 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.

TTL details

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 practice 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 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:


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. Not much can be done about this, however.

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

Differences between versions

The -ahoS flags are provided only in SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.6 and later releases; -w only in Release 5.0.7 and later. For releases prior to 5.0.6, the -i wait value must be an integer.

On SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.6 and later releases, ping is more robust in the face of name service problems as well as being more informative about such problems.

See also

ifconfig(ADMN), netstat(TC), routed(ADMN), traceroute(ADMN)

Standards conformance

ping is conformant with:

RFC 792 (STD 5);
and X/Open Portability Guide, Issue 4, 1992.

© 2003 Caldera International, Inc. All rights reserved.
SCO OpenServer Release 5.0.7 -- 11 February 2003