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Using the Linux arping command to ping local systems

The arping command is one of the lesser known commands that works much like the ping command.

The name stands for “arp ping” and it’s a tool that allows you to perform limited ping requests in that it collects information on local systems only. The reason for this is that it uses a Layer 2 network protocol and is, therefore, non-routable. The arping command is used for discovering and probing hosts on your local network.

If arping isn’t installed on your system, you should be able take care of that with one of these commands:

$ sudo apt install arping -y
$ sudo yum install arping -y

You can use it much like ping and, as with ping, you can set a count for the packets to be sent using -c (e.g., arping -c 2 hostname) or allow it to keep sending requests until you type ^c. In this first example, we send two requests to a system:

$ arping -c 2
ARPING from enp0s25
Unicast reply from [20:EA:16:01:55:EB]  64.895ms
Unicast reply from [20:EA:16:01:55:EB]  5.423ms
Sent 2 probes (1 broadcast(s))
Received 2 response(s)

Note that the response shows the time it takes to receive replies and the MAC address of the system being probed.

If you use the -f option, your arping will stop as soon as it has confirmed that the system is responding. That might sound efficient, but it will never get to the stopping point if the system—possibly some non-existent or shut down system—fails to respond. Using a small value is generally a better approach. In this next example, the command tried 83 times to reach the remote system before I killed it with a ^c, and it then provided the count.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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