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GNU networking utilities

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5.5 TTL Details

The TTL value of an IP packet represents the maximum number of IP routers that the packet can go through before being thrown away. In current practice you can expect each router in the Internet to decrement the TTL field by exactly one.

The TCP/IP specification states that the TTL field for TCP packets should be set to 60, but many systems use smaller values (4.3 BSD uses 30, 4.2 used 15).

The maximum possible value of this field is 255, and most Unix systems set the TTL field of ICMP ECHO_REQUEST packets to 255. This is why you will find you can "ping" some hosts, but not reach them with telnet(1) or ftp(1).

In normal operation ping prints the ttl value from the packet it receives. When a remote system receives a ping packet, it can do one of three things with the TTL field in its response:

Not change it; this is what Berkeley Unix systems did before the 4.3BSD-Tahoe release. In this case the TTL value in the received packet will be 255 minus the number of routers in the round-trip path.

Set it to 255; this is what current Berkeley Unix systems do. In this case the TTL value in the received packet will be 255 minus the number of routers in the path from the remote system to the pinging host.

Set it to some other value. Some machines use the same value for ICMP packets that they use for TCP packets, for example either 30 or 60. Others may use completely wild values.

Many Hosts and Gateways ignore the RECORD_ROUTE option.

The maximum IP header length is too small for options like RECORD_ROUTE to be completely useful. There's not much that that can be done about this, however.

Flood pinging is not recommended in general, and flood pinging the broadcast address should only be done under very controlled conditions.

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