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Checking Listening Ports with netstat


If you're troubleshooting a service that you know is running normally the next step is to make sure it's listening to the right network port.
The netstat command shows the services listening to ports on a Linux server along with the details of any connections currently made to them. The connection details we look at during basic network daemon troubleshooting are the addresses the daemon is listening on (including the port number), the daemon's PID (process identifier), and the program name.
Of course, you need to run netstat on the server running the service. Remember that netstat is not affected by your firewall configuration.

Checking ports

To list tcp ports that are being listened on, along with the name of each listener's daemon and its PID, run:
sudo netstat -plnt
The following example shows netstat's output for three common programs that are listening on three different sockets.
$ sudo netstat -plnt Active Internet connections (only servers) Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address Foreign Address State PID/Program name tcp 0 0* LISTEN 3686/mysqld tcp 0 0 :::443 :::* LISTEN 2218/httpd tcp 0 0 :::80 :::* LISTEN 2218/httpd tcp 0 0 :::22 :::* LISTEN 1051/sshd

Filtering the list

If the list of listening daemons is long you can use grep to filter it. For example, to filter out everything except the default web server port - number 80 – run:
$ sudo netstat -plnt | grep ':80' tcp 0 0 :::80 :::* LISTEN 8448/httpd

Analysing the results

Common outcomes are:
  • Nothing is listening on the port. Check the service configuration files then try restarting the service.
  • The correct service is listening on the correct port. In this case we need to test the service more thoroughly - skip to the article on testing the listening service for response using netcat.
  • Something other than the expected service appears to be listening on the port.
Note: If a super-server, such as xinetd, is listening on the port this may be desired. See above for details on looking at your xinetd configuration.
If something else is listening to the port, try disabling that program, e.g. "sudo service httpd stop", or changing its configuration so it no longer listens on the required port. Then enable the correct service when netstat shows the port is free, e.g. "sudo service vsftpd start".
If you make any changes because the incorrect service is listening or nothing is, run the netstat command again to see if it has made a difference. If netstat doesn't show the program listening on the correct port you need to address its configuration before you go any further.
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