Linux ping Command

PING (Packet INternet Groper) is a network administration utility used to check the connectivity status between a source and a destination computer/device over an IP network. It also helps you assess the time it takes to send and receive a response from the network.

Basic Principles behind ping Command

Whenever there is a requirement to quickly check the status of a network connection or to check if the target Server is alive or not, we use the ping command to send ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) network packets to send and receive echo messages.

Other than to simply check if the server/network is alive or not, it can also be used to find the latency of the network, i.e, how long the server takes to respond to a client request and send a response packet back. This is often measured using what is called Round Trip Time (RTT). A lower RTT implies a faster network latency, and thus a very good connection.

An echo message is sent every second by default, and based on the arrival of the echo reply, suitable statistics are also displayed to the user, which contains information about the number of packets received and sent. This also shows the RTT, thus also giving the user an idea of the connection latency.

Now that we know about the basics of ping, let us apply it to various situations using the Linux Terminal.

Ping a network host/peer

We can use ping to check if a remote host/peer (hostname) is available, or not, using the following command.

ping hostname

We can also substitute an IP Address instead of a hostname since hostnames resolve to IP Addresses.


The output will show the statistics of the ping transmission attempts.


root@Ubuntu:!/test# ping
Ping Hostname Example
Ping Hostname Example

Note that this command never terminates by default, and must be terminated manually using signals such as Ctrl+C.

Increase time between echo requests

By default, as stated earlier, the time between two successive echo requests to be sent is 1 Second. If you want, to change this, you must specify the -i (interval) option.

Format: ping -i TIME hostname

The below example shows a ping command with an interval of 5 Seconds between successive requests.

root@ubuntu:~/test# ping -i 5
Ping Interval Example
Ping Interval Example

Change the packet size of the ping Command

By default, the size of the ICMP packet is 56 bytes, as you can observe from the earlier outputs. To modify this, we can use the -s(size) option.

Format: ping -s SIZE hostname will ping hostname with a packet size of SIZE bytes.

The below example pings a remote host using a packet size of 100 bytes.

root@ubuntu:~/test# ping -s 100
Ping Packet Size Example
Ping Packet Size Example

Send a definite number of packets

The default version of ping will keeps sending packets until it gets terminated. To avoid this, and to only send a limited amount of packets, we can specify the -c (count) option.

Format: ping -c count hostname will send count number of packets to hostname and then terminate.

root@Ubuntu:~/test# ping -c 4
Ping Count Example
Ping Count Example

Set a ping timeout

You can set a time limit after which ping will exit, no matter how many ping packets are sent or received, using -w timeout option.

Format: ping -w timeout hostname will use the timeout as timeout number of seconds.

The below example uses a timeout of 2 seconds when pinging, which means that after 3 seconds, it automatically terminates.

root@Ubuntu:~/test# ping -w 2
Ping Timeout Example
Ping Timeout Example

Flooding a network with ping requests

Linux ping command allows superusers (eg. When invoked with sudo) to send 100 or more packets per second through the following command:

sudo ping -f hostname

This could be useful to look at how servers could handle a large number of requests and also check for potential vulnerabilities in these types of scenarios.

WARNING: Do not use this command indiscriminately. Certain servers could block you if you send too many requests, so this must be only used sparingly.

root@Ubuntu:~/test# sudo ping -f
Ping Flooding Example
Ping Flooding Example

Further Options

The list of options that ping takes, along with their function, is given in the below table.

-aProduces a beep sound when the peer/host is reachable
-bUse this option to allow pinging a broadcast address
-BUse this option if you do not want to allow the ping to change the source address of the probe
-cSets the number of times to send the ping request
-dSets the SO-DEBUG option on the socket being used
-fFloods the network by sending hundred or more packets per second
-iSpecify an interval between successive packet transmissions
-ISets the source address to the specified interface address. This option is required when pinging the IPv6 link-local address. Its argument can be an IP address or name of the device.
-nDisplays the network addresses as numbers rather than as hostnames
-qQuiet Output – Only the summary is displayed at startup and finish time
-TSet the Time To Live (TTL)
-vVerbose output
-wSpecify a timeout, in seconds, before ping exits, regardless of how many packets have been sent or received.


In this article, we learned about the ping utility command, which is very useful to analyze the network/server status, and measures other useful statistics like latency, RTT, etc. We also learned about using this command using various options to send our requests and analyze them differently based on the option specified.