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System Administration Guide: IP Services
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Monitoring Packet Transfers With the snoop Command

You can use the snoop command to monitor the state of data transfers. snoop captures network packets and displays their contents in the format that you specify. Packets can be displayed as soon as they are received, or saved to a file. When snoop writes to an intermediate file, packet loss under busy trace conditions is unlikely. snoop itself is then used to interpret the file.

To capture packets to and from the default interface in promiscuous mode, you must assume the Network Management role or become superuser. In summary form, snoop displays only the data that pertains to the highest-level protocol. For example, an NFS packet only displays NFS information. The underlying RPC, UDP, IP, and Ethernet frame information is suppressed but can be displayed if either of the verbose options is chosen.

Use snoop frequently and consistently to become familiar with normal system behavior. For assistance in analyzing packets, look for a recent white paper and RFC, and seek the advice of an expert in a particular area, such as NFS or NIS. For details on using snoop and its options, refer to the snoop(1M) man page.

How to Check Packets From All Interfaces

  1. On the local host, assume the Network Management role or become superuser.

    Roles contain authorizations and privileged commands. For more information about roles, see Configuring RBAC (Task Map) in System Administration Guide: Security Services.

  2. Print information about the interfaces that are attached to the system.
    # ifconfig -a

    The snoop command normally uses the first non-loopback device, typically the primary network interface.

  3. Begin packet capture by typing snoop without arguments, as shown in Example 8-19
  4. Use Control-C to halt the process.
Example 8-19 Output From the snoop Command

The basic snoop command returns output that resembles the following, for a dual-stack host.

% snoop
Using device /dev/hme (promiscuous mode)
farhost.remote.com -> myhost       RLOGIN C port=993 
    myhost -> farhost.remote.com   RLOGIN R port=993 Using device /dev/hme
router5.local.com -> router5.local.com ARP R 10.0.0.13, router5.local.com is
    0:10:7b:31:37:80
router5.local.com -> BROADCAST     TFTP Read "network-confg" (octet)
myhost -> DNSserver.local.com      DNS C 192.168.10.10.in-addr.arpa. Internet PTR ?
DNSserver.local.com  myhost        DNS R 192.168.10.10.in-addr.arpa. Internet PTR niserve2.
.
.
farhost.remote.com-> myhost        RLOGIN C port=993 
    myhost -> farhost.remote.com   RLOGIN R port=993 fe80::a00:20ff:febb:
.
fe80::a00:20ff:febb:e09 -> ff02::9 RIPng R (5 destinations)

The packets that are captured in this output show a remote login section, including lookups to the NIS and DNS servers for address resolution. Also included are periodic ARP packets from the local router and advertisements of the IPv6 link-local address to in.ripngd.

How to Capture snoop Output Into a File

  1. On the local host, assume the Network Management role or become superuser.

    Roles contain authorizations and privileged commands. For more information about roles, see Configuring RBAC (Task Map) in System Administration Guide: Security Services.

  2. Capture a snoop session into a file.
    # snoop -o filename

    For example:

    # snoop /tmp/cap
    Using device /dev/eri (promiscuous mode)
    30 snoop: 30 packets captured

    In the example, 30 packets have been captured in a file named /tmp/cap. The file can be in any directory with enough disk space. The number of packets that are captured is displayed on the command line, enabling you to press Control-C to abort at any time.

    snoop creates a noticeable networking load on the host machine, which can distort the results. To see the actual results, run snoop from a third system.

  3. Inspect the snoop output captures file.
    # snoop -i filename
Example 8-20 Contents of a snoop Output Captures File

The following output shows a variety of captures such as you might receive as output from the snoop -i command.

# snoop -i /tmp/cap
1   0.00000 fe80::a00:20ff:fee9:2d27 -> fe80::a00:20ff:fecd:4375 
    ICMPv6 Neighbor advertisement
2   0.16198 farhost.com   -> myhost     RLOGIN C port=985 
3   0.00008 myhost -> farhost.com       RLOGIN R port=985 
10  0.91493    10.0.0.40 -> (broadcast)  ARP C Who is 10.0.0.40, 10.0.0.40 ?
34  0.43690 nearserver.here.com  -> 224.0.1.1  IP  D=224.0.1.1 S=10.0.0.40 LEN=28, 
      ID=47453, TO =0x0, TTL=1
35  0.00034  10.0.0.40 -> 224.0.1.1    IP  D=224.0.1.1 S=10.0.0.40 LEN=28, ID=57376, 
     TOS=0x0, TTL=47  

How to Check Packets Between an IPv4 Server and a Client

  1. Establish a snoop system off a hub that is connected to either the client or the server.

    The third system (the snoop system) checks all the intervening traffic, so the snoop trace reflects what is actually happening on the wire.

  2. On the snoop system, assume the Network Management role or become superuser.

    Roles contain authorizations and privileged commands. For more information about roles, see Configuring RBAC (Task Map) in System Administration Guide: Security Services.

  3. Type snoop with options and save the output to a file.
  4. Inspect and interpret the output.

    Refer to RFC 1761, Snoop Version 2 Packet Capture File Format for details of the snoop capture file.

How to Monitor IPv6 Network Traffic

You can use the snoop command to display only IPv6 packets.

  1. On the local node, assume the Network Management role or become superuser.

    Roles contain authorizations and privileged commands. For more information about roles, see Configuring RBAC (Task Map) in System Administration Guide: Security Services.

  2. Capture IPv6 packets.
    # snoop ip6

    For more information on the snoop command, see the snoop(1M) man page.

Example 8-21 Displaying Only IPv6 Network Traffic

The following example shows typical output such as you might receive from running the snoop ip6 command on a node.

# snoop ip6
fe80::a00:20ff:fecd:4374 -> ff02::1:ffe9:2d27 ICMPv6 Neighbor solicitation
fe80::a00:20ff:fee9:2d27 -> fe80::a00:20ff:fecd:4375 ICMPv6 Neighbor 
      solicitation
fe80::a00:20ff:fee9:2d27 -> fe80::a00:20ff:fecd:4375 ICMPv6 Neighbor 
      solicitation
fe80::a00:20ff:febb:e09 -> ff02::9      RIPng R (11 destinations)
fe80::a00:20ff:fee9:2d27 -> ff02::1:ffcd:4375 ICMPv6 Neighbor solicitation
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