MTR as a combined traceroute and ping tool

mtr combines the functionality of the traceroute and ping programs in a single network diagnostic tool.” And it’s really cool.

Like ping, it sends “echo” packets from your machine to the target machine to measure latency and packet loss along the network path, but it continuously displays updated statistics in real time as it operates.

Like traceroute, it shows the names or IP addresses of each machine along the network path, also updating these statistics for each machine.

Here’s some (frozen) sample output from the ncurses mode (terminal mode) mtr:

                                My traceroute  [v0.71]
exobox (0.0.0.0)                                             Thu Dec 21 16:15:01 2006
Keys:  Help   Display mode   Restart statistics   Order of fields   quit
                                             Packets               Pings
 Host                                      Loss%   Snt   Last   Avg  Best  Wrst StDev
 1.                                         0.0%    20    0.4   0.3   0.2   0.7   0.1
 2.                                         0.0%    20    1.6   1.4   1.0   2.7   0.4
 3.                                         0.0%    19    1.3   1.3   1.0   2.7   0.4
 4. 10.0.0.25                               0.0%    19    1.1   1.2   1.0   2.7   0.4
 5. 219.142.10.17                           0.0%    19    1.4   2.6   1.2  16.0   3.3
 6. bj141-130-121.bjtelecom.net             0.0%    19    1.4   1.6   1.4   2.5   0.3
 7. 202.97.57.221                           0.0%    19  199.3  12.0   1.3 199.3  45.4
 8. 202.97.37.9                             0.0%    19    1.7  35.7   1.3 186.5  56.2
 9. 202.97.53.146                           0.0%    19    1.8   2.0   1.5   4.8   0.8
10. 202.97.61.50                            0.0%    19  284.6 292.2 278.3 305.8   8.7
11. so-4-0-0.mpr2.lax9.us.above.net        15.8%    19  286.2 291.9 278.6 325.2  11.5
12. so-5-0-0.mpr1.iah1.us.above.net        15.8%    19  313.2 323.8 311.3 340.5   8.6
13. so-5-3-0.cr1.dfw2.us.above.net          5.3%    19  319.6 331.1 314.1 404.6  20.3
14. so-0-0-0.cr2.dfw2.us.above.net         11.1%    19  696.0 718.7 693.3 797.2  33.7
15. so-3-1-0.cr2.dca2.us.above.net         36.8%    19  347.4 354.9 342.5 368.7   8.6
16. so-0-1-0.mpr1.lhr3.uk.above.net        11.1%    19  421.5 423.6 411.1 438.2   7.8
17. so-1-0-0.mpr3.ams1.nl.above.net        11.1%    19  433.9 438.9 422.4 514.1  22.0
18. DutchDSL.above.net                     33.3%    19  423.1 432.7 418.7 463.0  11.4
19. ge-0-1-0-v189.rtr1.ams-rb.io.nl        27.8%    19  405.8 414.7 398.2 434.6  11.6
20. 213.196.40.242                         23.5%    18  404.8 418.1 399.9 485.8  21.9

Looking at the Avg column (units in ms), the above output shows that my network packets pass through Beijing Telecom’s routers to the U.S., then to the U.K., and finally to their destination in the Netherlands. A large latency increase occurs between lines 9 and 10 (presumably leaving P.R. China), and another between lines 13 and 16 (U.S. to U.K.).

mtr has some interesting display modes besides the above, where it shows the latency of each packet graphically according to a dynamic scale. In this way, the above points of really large latency can be easily detected.

mtr can be obtained from the mtr website, or it can be installed in Debian/Ubuntu by:

# apt-get install mtr-tiny

or

# apt-get install mtr

for the ncurses or X11 versions, respectively, although mtr-tiny appears to be installed by default in the Debian and Ubuntu machines I have tested. So you may already have it.

One thought on “MTR as a combined traceroute and ping tool

  1. 01 Systems

    Hi, looking all over for more documentation for MTR, you have offered the best explaination for my purposes so far, thanks for this.

    Also, i ran this and got these on the first two hops.

    Loss% Snt Last Avg Best Wrst StDev
    0.0% 100 0.6 60.5 0.3 2064. 293.2
    0.0% 100 2.4 83.2 1.8 1912. 272.3

    does this mean that the first two hops are unstable, i.e they can have low ping and high ping?

    hope this makes sense,

    thanks.

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