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NC(1) DragonFly General Commands Manual NC(1)
nc - arbitrary TCP and UDP connections and listens
nc [-46cDdFhklNnrStUuvz] [-C certfile] [-e name] [-H hash] [-I length]
[-i interval] [-K keyfile] [-M ttl] [-m minttl] [-O length]
[-o staplefile] [-P proxy_username] [-p source_port] [-R CAfile]
[-s sourceaddr] [-T keyword] [-V rtable] [-W recvlimit] [-w timeout]
[-X proxy_protocol] [-x proxy_address[:port]] [-Z peercertfile]
The nc (or netcat) utility is used for just about anything under the sun
involving TCP, UDP, or UNIX-domain sockets. It can open TCP connections,
send UDP packets, listen on arbitrary TCP and UDP ports, do port
scanning, and deal with both IPv4 and IPv6. Unlike telnet(1), nc scripts
nicely, and separates error messages onto standard error instead of
sending them to standard output, as telnet(1) does with some.
Common uses include:
* simple TCP proxies
* shell-script based HTTP clients and servers
* network daemon testing
* a SOCKS or HTTP ProxyCommand for ssh(1)
* and much, much more
The options are as follows:
-4 Use IPv4 addresses only.
-6 Use IPv6 addresses only.
Load the public key part of the TLS peer certificate from
certfile, in PEM format. Requires -c.
-c Use TLS to connect or listen. Cannot be used together with any
of the options -FuU.
-D Enable debugging on the socket.
-d Do not attempt to read from stdin.
Only accept the TLS peer certificate if it contains the name.
Requires -c. If not specified, destination is used.
-F Pass the first connected socket using sendmsg(2) to stdout and
exit. This is useful in conjunction with -X to have nc perform
connection setup with a proxy but then leave the rest of the
connection to another program (e.g. ssh(1) using the
ssh_config(5) ProxyUseFdpass option). Cannot be used with -c or
Only accept the TLS peer certificate if its hash returned from
tls_peer_cert_hash(3) matches hash. Requires -c and cannot be
used with -T noverify.
-h Print out the nc help text and exit.
Specify the size of the TCP receive buffer.
Sleep for interval seconds between lines of text sent and
received. Also causes a delay time between connections to
Load the TLS private key from keyfile, in PEM format. Requires
-k When a connection is completed, listen for another one. Requires
-l. When used together with the -u option, the server socket is
not connected and it can receive UDP datagrams from multiple
-l Listen for an incoming connection rather than initiating a
connection to a remote host. Cannot be used together with any of
the options -psxz. Additionally, any timeouts specified with the
-w option are ignored.
-M ttl Set the TTL / hop limit of outgoing packets.
Ask the kernel to drop incoming packets whose TTL / hop limit is
-N shutdown(2) the network socket after EOF on the input. Some
servers require this to finish their work.
-n Do not perform domain name resolution. If a name cannot be
resolved without DNS, an error will be reported.
Specify the size of the TCP send buffer.
During the TLS handshake, load data to be stapled from
staplefile, which is expected to contain an OCSP response from an
OCSP server in DER format. Requires -c and -C.
Specifies a username to present to a proxy server that requires
authentication. If no username is specified then authentication
will not be attempted. Proxy authentication is only supported
for HTTP CONNECT proxies at present.
Specify the source port nc should use, subject to privilege
restrictions and availability. Cannot be used together with -l.
Load the root CA bundle for TLS certificate verification from
CAfile, in PEM format, instead of /etc/ssl/cert.pem. Requires
-r Choose source and/or destination ports randomly instead of
sequentially within a range or in the order that the system
-S Enable the RFC 2385 TCP MD5 signature option.
Set the source address to send packets from, which is useful on
machines with multiple interfaces. For UNIX-domain datagram
sockets, specifies the local temporary socket file to create and
use so that datagrams can be received. Cannot be used together
with -l or -x.
Change the IPv4 TOS/IPv6 traffic class value or the TLS options.
For TLS options, keyword may be one of: noverify, which disables
certificate verification; noname, which disables certificate name
checking; clientcert, which requires a client certificate on
incoming connections; or muststaple, which requires the peer to
provide a valid stapled OCSP response with the handshake. The
following TLS options specify a value in the form of a key=value
pair: ciphers, which allows the supported TLS ciphers to be
specified (see tls_config_set_ciphers(3) for further details);
protocols, which allows the supported TLS protocols to be
specified (see tls_config_parse_protocols(3) for further
details). Specifying TLS options requires -c.
For the IPv4 TOS/IPv6 traffic class value, keyword may be one of
critical, inetcontrol, lowdelay, netcontrol, throughput,
reliability, or one of the DiffServ Code Points: ef, af11 ...
af43, cs0 ... cs7; or a number in either hex or decimal.
-t Send RFC 854 DON'T and WON'T responses to RFC 854 DO and WILL
requests. This makes it possible to use nc to script telnet
-U Use UNIX-domain sockets. Cannot be used together with any of the
-u Use UDP instead of TCP. Cannot be used together with -c or -x.
For UNIX-domain sockets, use a datagram socket instead of a
stream socket. If a UNIX-domain socket is used, a temporary
receiving socket is created in /tmp unless the -s flag is given.
Set the routing table to be used.
-v Produce more verbose output.
Terminate after receiving recvlimit packets from the network.
Connections which cannot be established or are idle timeout after
timeout seconds. The -w flag has no effect on the -l option,
i.e. nc will listen forever for a connection, with or without the
-w flag. The default is no timeout.
Use proxy_protocol when talking to the proxy server. Supported
protocols are 4 (SOCKS v.4), 5 (SOCKS v.5) and connect (HTTPS
proxy). If the protocol is not specified, SOCKS version 5 is
Connect to destination using a proxy at proxy_address and port.
If port is not specified, the well-known port for the proxy
protocol is used (1080 for SOCKS, 3128 for HTTPS). An IPv6
address can be specified unambiguously by enclosing proxy_address
in square brackets. A proxy cannot be used with any of the
Save the peer certificates to peercertfile, in PEM format.
-z Only scan for listening daemons, without sending any data to
them. Cannot be used together with -l.
destination can be a numerical IP address or a symbolic hostname (unless
the -n option is given). In general, a destination must be specified,
unless the -l option is given (in which case the local host is used).
For UNIX-domain sockets, a destination is required and is the socket path
to connect to (or listen on if the -l option is given).
port can be specified as a numeric port number or as a service name.
Port ranges may be specified as numeric port numbers of the form nn-mm.
In general, a destination port must be specified, unless the -U option is
It is quite simple to build a very basic client/server model using nc.
On one console, start nc listening on a specific port for a connection.
$ nc -l 1234
nc is now listening on port 1234 for a connection. On a second console
(or a second machine), connect to the machine and port being listened on:
$ nc 127.0.0.1 1234
There should now be a connection between the ports. Anything typed at
the second console will be concatenated to the first, and vice-versa.
After the connection has been set up, nc does not really care which side
is being used as a `server' and which side is being used as a `client'.
The connection may be terminated using an EOF (`^D').
The example in the previous section can be expanded to build a basic data
transfer model. Any information input into one end of the connection
will be output to the other end, and input and output can be easily
captured in order to emulate file transfer.
Start by using nc to listen on a specific port, with output captured into
$ nc -l 1234 > filename.out
Using a second machine, connect to the listening nc process, feeding it
the file which is to be transferred:
$ nc -N host.example.com 1234 < filename.in
After the file has been transferred, the connection will close
TALKING TO SERVERS
It is sometimes useful to talk to servers "by hand" rather than through a
user interface. It can aid in troubleshooting, when it might be
necessary to verify what data a server is sending in response to commands
issued by the client. For example, to retrieve the home page of a web
$ printf "GET / HTTP/1.0\r\n\r\n" | nc host.example.com 80
Note that this also displays the headers sent by the web server. They
can be filtered, using a tool such as sed(1), if necessary.
More complicated examples can be built up when the user knows the format
of requests required by the server. As another example, an email may be
submitted to an SMTP server using:
$ nc localhost 25 << EOF
Body of email.
It may be useful to know which ports are open and running services on a
target machine. The -z flag can be used to tell nc to report open ports,
rather than initiate a connection. For example:
$ nc -z host.example.com 20-30
Connection to host.example.com 22 port [tcp/ssh] succeeded!
Connection to host.example.com 25 port [tcp/smtp] succeeded!
The port range was specified to limit the search to ports 20 - 30.
Alternatively, it might be useful to know which server software is
running, and which versions. This information is often contained within
the greeting banners. In order to retrieve these, it is necessary to
first make a connection, and then break the connection when the banner
has been retrieved. This can be accomplished by specifying a small
timeout with the -w flag, or perhaps by issuing a "QUIT" command to the
$ echo "QUIT" | nc host.example.com 20-30
220 host.example.com IMS SMTP Receiver Version 0.84 Ready
Open a TCP connection to port 42 of host.example.com, using port 31337 as
the source port, with a timeout of 5 seconds:
$ nc -p 31337 -w 5 host.example.com 42
Open a TCP connection to port 443 of www.example.com, and negotiate TLS
with any supported TLS protocol version and "compat" ciphers:
$ nc -cv -T protocols=all -T ciphers=compat www.example.com 443
Open a TCP connection to port 443 of www.google.ca, and negotiate TLS.
Check for a different name in the certificate for validation:
$ nc -cv -e adsf.au.doubleclick.net www.google.ca 443
Open a UDP connection to port 53 of host.example.com:
$ nc -u host.example.com 53
Open a TCP connection to port 42 of host.example.com using 10.1.2.3 as
the IP for the local end of the connection:
$ nc -s 10.1.2.3 host.example.com 42
Create and listen on a UNIX-domain stream socket:
$ nc -lU /var/tmp/dsocket
Connect to port 42 of host.example.com via an HTTP proxy at 10.2.3.4,
port 8080. This example could also be used by ssh(1); see the
ProxyCommand directive in ssh_config(5) for more information.
$ nc -x10.2.3.4:8080 -Xconnect host.example.com 42
The same example again, this time enabling proxy authentication with
username "ruser" if the proxy requires it:
$ nc -x10.2.3.4:8080 -Xconnect -Pruser host.example.com 42
Original implementation by *Hobbit* <email@example.com>.
Rewritten with IPv6 support by
Eric Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
UDP port scans using the -uz combination of flags will always report
success irrespective of the target machine's state. However, in
conjunction with a traffic sniffer either on the target machine or an
intermediary device, the -uz combination could be useful for
communications diagnostics. Note that the amount of UDP traffic
generated may be limited either due to hardware resources and/or
DragonFly 5.9-DEVELOPMENT February 12, 2020 DragonFly 5.9-DEVELOPMENT