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Linux and Unix ping command tutorial with examples

Tutorial on using ping, a UNIX and Linux command for sending ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts. Examples of checking if a remote host is up and limiting to IPv4 and IPv6 requests.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Table of contents

Terminal showing ping man page

What is the ping command in UNIX?

The ping command sends ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to network hosts and reports on the response from the remote server, outputting to standard output. It can be used to check if a remote host is up, or that network interfaces can be reached. It is frequently used to check whether a network connection is available between one machine and another. The ping command is useful for testing whether a remote server is available, checking your own network connection and verifying network issues.

How to check a remote host is up

To check a remote host is up using the ping command pass the hostname or ip of the remote server you are interested in communicating with.

ping bbc.co.uk
PING bbc.co.uk (212.58.244.22) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 212.58.244.22 (212.58.244.22): icmp_seq=1 ttl=53 time=130 ms
64 bytes from 212.58.244.22 (212.58.244.22): icmp_seq=2 ttl=53 time=130 ms
64 bytes from 212.58.244.22 (212.58.244.22): icmp_seq=3 ttl=53 time=130 ms
^C
--- bbc.co.uk ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2002ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 130.145/130.182/130.225/0.417 ms

The command will continue running until you hit CTRL+C. Using the ping command in this way can also be useful as a quick and dirty way to see if the machine the command is being run from has a network connection.

How to limit the number of packets sent

To limit the number of packets sent use the -c option. This causes ping to exit after sending the number of ECHO_REQUEST packets specified.

ping -c 2 guardian.co.uk
PING guardian.co.uk (23.235.33.233): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 23.235.33.233: icmp_seq=0 ttl=56 time=47.729 ms
64 bytes from 23.235.33.233: icmp_seq=1 ttl=56 time=31.187 ms

--- guardian.co.uk ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 31.187/39.458/47.729/8.271 ms

How to check IPv4 only

To check IPv4 using ping pass the -4 option. This can be useful for checking whether an IPv4 interface is up.

ping -4 google.com
PING google.com (172.217.4.174) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from lax28s01-in-f174.1e100.net (172.217.4.174): icmp_seq=1 ttl=55 time=9.01 ms
64 bytes from lax28s01-in-f174.1e100.net (172.217.4.174): icmp_seq=2 ttl=55 time=9.15 ms
^C
--- google.com ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1001ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 9.013/9.082/9.152/0.117 ms

How to check IPv6 only

To check IPv6 using ping pass the -6 option. This can be useful for checking the configuration of an IPv6 interface.

ping -6 google.com
PING google.com(nuq04s29-in-x0e.1e100.net (2607:f8b0:4005:801::200e)) 56 data bytes
64 bytes from nuq04s29-in-x0e.1e100.net (2607:f8b0:4005:801::200e): icmp_seq=1 ttl=57 time=1.37 ms
64 bytes from nuq04s29-in-x0e.1e100.net (2607:f8b0:4005:801::200e): icmp_seq=2 ttl=57 time=1.50 ms
^C
--- google.com ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1002ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 1.370/1.439/1.508/0.069 ms

How to add a timestamp before each line

To add a timestamp before each line pass the -D option. This causes ping to add a UNIX timestamp to the start of each line. This can be useful to document the time of day that network tests were completed.

ping -D google.com
PING google.com(nuq04s29-in-x0e.1e100.net (2607:f8b0:4005:801::200e)) 56 data bytes
[1472109939.583350] 64 bytes from nuq04s29-in-x0e.1e100.net (2607:f8b0:4005:801::200e): icmp_seq=1 ttl=57 time=1.37 ms
[1472109940.584020] 64 bytes from nuq04s29-in-x0e.1e100.net (2607:f8b0:4005:801::200e): icmp_seq=2 ttl=57 time=1.45 ms
^C
--- google.com ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 2 received, 0% packet loss, time 1001ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 1.371/1.413/1.456/0.056 ms

Further reading

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