How to check the port if used in unix/linux

Posted 2024-02-23 19:25:01 ‐ 7 min read

How to check if port is in use

To check the listening ports and applications on Linux:

  1. Open a terminal application i.e. shell prompt.
  2. Run any one of the following command on Linux to see open ports:
    $ sudo lsof -i -P -n | grep LISTEN
    $ sudo netstat -tulpn | grep LISTEN
    $ sudo ss -tulpn | grep LISTEN
    $ sudo lsof -i:22 ## see a specific port such as 22 ##
    $ sudo nmap -sTU -O IP-address-Here
  3. For the latest version of Linux use the ss command. For example, ss -tulwnp

Let us see commands and its output in details.

Option #1: lsof command

The syntax is:

$ sudo lsof -i -P -n
$ sudo lsof -i -P -n | grep LISTEN
$ doas lsof -i -P -n | grep LISTEN # OpenBSD #

Option #2: netstat or ss command

You can check the listening ports and applications with netstat as follows.

Linux netstat syntax

Prerequisite By default, netstat command may not be installed on your system. Hence, use the apk command on Alpine Linux, dnf command/yum command on RHEL & co, apt command/apt-get command on Debian, Ubuntu & co, zypper command on SUSE/OpenSUSE, pacman command on Arch Linux to install the netstat.

Run the netstat command along with grep command to filter out port in LISTEN state:

$ netstat -tulpn | grep LISTEN
$ netstat -tulpn | more

OR filter out specific TCP port such as 443: $ netstat -tulpn | grep ':443' Where netstat command options are:

  • -t : Select all TCP ports
  • -u : Select all UDP ports
  • -l : Show listening server sockets (open TCP and UDP ports in listing state)
  • -p : Display PID/Program name for sockets. In other words, this option tells who opened the TCP or UDP port. For example, on my system, Nginx opened TCP port 80/443, so I will /usr/sbin/nginx or its PID.
  • -n : Don’t resolve name (avoid dns lookup, this speed up the netstat on busy Linux/Unix servers)

The netstat command deprecated for some time on Linux. Therefore, you need to use the ss command as follows:

$ sudo ss -tulw
$ sudo ss -tulwn
$ sudo ss -tulwn | grep LISTEN

Where, ss command options are as follows:

  • -t : Show only TCP sockets on Linux
  • -u : Display only UDP sockets on Linux
  • -l : Show listening sockets. For example, TCP port 22 is opened by SSHD server.
  • -p : List process name that opened sockets
  • -n : Don’t resolve service names i.e. don’t use DNS

Related: Linux Find Out Which Process Is Listening Upon a Port

FreeBSD/macOS (OS X) netstat syntax

The syntax is as follows:

$ netstat -anp tcp | grep LISTEN
$ netstat -anp udp | grep LISTEN

You can use the sockstat command on macOS or FreeBSD to display open TCP or UDP ports too. For example: {vivek@freebsd13-server:~}$ sudo sockstat -4 -6 -l Outputs from my FreeBSD server version 13.xx:

root     master     1723  13 tcp4          *:*
root     master     1723  14 tcp4       *:*
root     sshd       1627  3  tcp6   *:22                  *:*
root     sshd       1627  4  tcp4   *:22                  *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  20 udp6   *:123                 *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  21 udp4   *:123                 *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  22 udp4      *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  23 udp6   ::1:123               *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  24 udp6   fe80::1%lo0:123       *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  25 udp4         *:*
ntpd     ntpd       1615  26 udp4        *:*
root     syslogd    1085  6  udp6   *:514                 *:*
root     syslogd    1085  7  udp4   *:514                 *:*
?        ?          ?     ?  udp4   *:17890               *:*
?        ?          ?     ?  udp6   *:17890               *:*

Option #3: nmap command

The syntax is:

$ sudo nmap -sT -O localhost# search for open port IP address
$ sudo nmap -sU -O ##[ list open UDP ports ]
$ sudo nmap -sT -O ##[ list open TCP ports ]

You can combine TCP/UDP scan in a single command: $ sudo nmap -sTU -O

Testing if a port is open from a bash script

One can use the “/dev/tcp/{HostName}_OR_{IPAddrress}>/{port}” syntax to check if a TCP port is open on a Linux or Unix machine when using Bash. In other words, the following is Bash specific feature. Let us see if TCP port 22 is open on localhost and

$ (echo >/dev/tcp/localhost/23) &>/dev/null && echo "open" || echo "close"
$ (echo >/dev/tcp/ &>/dev/null && echo "open" || echo "close"

Now we can build some logic as follows:

echo "Testing the ssh connectivity ... "
if ! (echo >/dev/tcp/$dest_box/22) &>/dev/null
    echo "$0 cannot connect to the $dest_box. Check your vpn connectivity."
    echo "Running the ansible playboook ..."
    ansible-playbook -i hosts --ask-vault-pass --extra-vars '' main.yaml

What if I’m not using Bash…

Try the nc command as follows:

$ nc -w {timeout} -zv {server_IP_hostname} {tcp_port} &>/dev/null && echo "Open" || echo "Close"
$ nc -w 5 -zv 23 &>/dev/null && echo "TCP/23 Open" || echo "TCP/23 Close"

The updated Bash script:

timeout="5" # timeouts in seconds
echo "Testing the ssh connectivity in $timeout seconds ... "
# make sure 'nc' is installed, else die ..
if ! type -a nc &>/dev/null
    echo "$0 - nc command not found. Please install nc and run the script again."
    exit 1
if !  nc -w "$timeout" -zv "${dest_box}" 22  &>/dev/null
    echo "$0 cannot connect to the $dest_box. Check your vpn connectivity."
    exit 1
    echo "Running the ansible playboook ..."
    ansible-playbook -i hosts --ask-vault-pass --extra-vars '' main.yaml

Using Perl to check if a TCP port is open in Linux or Unix

Here is a Perl script to check if TCP port 22 for OpenSSH is open with a 5-second timeout using IO::Socket::INET:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w 
use IO::Socket::INET;
# Set server name and port here
# make a new object
my $server_test = IO::Socket::INET->new(
  PeerAddr => "$my_server",
  PeerPort => "$my_server_tcp_port",
  Proto => 'tcp',
  Timeout => 5
# test it and die or continue as per your needs
if ($server_test) {
  print "TCP port $my_server_tcp_port is open for the $my_server.\n";
  print "Now doing something ...\n";
  close $server_test;
else {
  print "TCP port $my_server_tcp_port is closed or timed out for the $my_server.\n";

Python example to check if a TCP port is open in Linux or Unix

Try thise simple code that uses low level socket networking feature. For example:

# Tested on Python 3.6.xx and 3.8.xx only (updated from Python 2.x)
import socket
# Create a new function 
def check_server_tcp_port(my_host_ip_name, my_tcp_port, timeout=5):
    s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)
        s.connect((my_host_ip_name, my_tcp_port))
        print(f"TCP port {my_tcp_port} is open for the {my_host_ip_name}.")
        return True
    except socket.timeout:
        print(f"TCP port {my_tcp_port} is closed or timed out for the {my_host_ip_name}.")
        return False
# Test it 
check_server_tcp_port("localhost", 22)
check_server_tcp_port("", 22)


This page explained command to determining if a port is in use on Linux or Unix-like server. For more information see the nmap command and lsof command page online here or by typing the man command as follows: $ man lsof$ man ss$ man netstat$ man nmap$ man 5 services$ man nc

See also