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Basic network troubleshooting in Linux with nmap

Nmap is a complex tool. Check out this short list of Nmap commands that will carry you through basic network troubleshooting.
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Quick and dirty troubleshooting
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Troubleshooting a network is fun, challenging, and interesting, especially for sysadmins. Linux comes with various tools under its belt to help you along the way, including Nmap, ping, traceroute, netstat, ns lookup, and dig. For the purpose of this article, I will stick to Nmap and will explain the steps for how to troubleshoot a network.

Nmap is a useful tool for troubleshooting networks by detecting open ports, the OS version, routes between servers, and much more. Read the official documentation yourself to get a more in-depth look at this tool. Now, let’s dive into using some of the Nmap commands. First, check the version of Nmap (I’m using Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.5), like this:

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Running nmap --VV

If Nmap is not installed, type the following on an RHEL-based system:

$ sudo yum install -y nmap

Now, run Nmap on our gateway IP:

$ sudo nmap -sn <Your-IP>

The results look like this:

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The results of running nmap -sn &lt;Your-IP&gt;.

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Determine this host's OS with the -O switch:

$ sudo nmap -O <Your-IP>

The results look like this:

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The results of running nmap -O &lt;IP-Address&gt;

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Then, run the following to check the common 2000 ports, which handle the common TCP and UDP services. Here, -Pn is used to skip the ping scan after assuming that the host is up:

$ sudo nmap -sS -sU -PN <Your-IP>

The results look like this:

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The results of running nmap -sS -sU -PN &lt;Your-IP&gt;

Note: The -Pn combo is also useful for checking if the host firewall is blocking ICMP requests or not.

Also, as an extension to the above command, if you need to scan all ports instead of only the 2000 ports, you can use the following to scan ports from 1-66535:

$ sudo nmap -sS -sU -PN -p 1-65535 <Your-IP>

The results look like this:

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The results of running nmap -sS -sU -PN -p 1-65535 &lt;Your-IP&gt;

You can also scan only for TCP ports (default 1000) by using the following:

$ sudo nmap -sT <Your-IP>

The results look like this:

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The results of running nmap -sT &lt;Your-IP&gt;

Now, after all of these checks, you can also perform the "all" aggressive scans with the -A option, which tells Nmap to perform OS and version checking using -T4 as a timing template that tells Nmap how fast to perform this scan (see the Nmap man page for more information on timing templates):

$ sudo nmap -A -T4 <Your-IP> 

The results look like this, and are shown here in two parts:

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The results of running nmap -A -T4 &lt;Your-IP&gt;, part 1
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The results of running nmap -A -T4 &lt;Your-IP&gt;, part 2

There you go. These are the most common and useful Nmap commands. Together, they provide sufficient network, OS, and open port information, which is helpful in troubleshooting. Feel free to comment with your preferred Nmap commands as well.

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Topics:   Networking  
Author’s photo

Shashank Nandishwar Hegde

I work as a Solutions Engineer at Red Hat and my day-to-day work involves OpenShift and Ansible. I'm highly passionate about open source software, cloud, security, and networking technologies. More about me

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