Linux Network Management: Installing and Using ‘ifconfig’

Linux Network Management: Installing and Using ‘ifconfig’

Digital illustration of a Linux terminal depicting the installation of the ifconfig command used for configuring kernel-resident network interfaces

Are you struggling with managing network interfaces in your Linux system? You’re not alone. Many Linux users find the task of managing network interfaces daunting, however, the ‘ifconfig’ command in Linux can help you configure and manage your network interfaces with ease. Additionally, ‘ifconfig’ is readily available whether you’re using Debian and Ubuntu for APT package management, or CentOS and AlmaLinux for YUM package manager. With this guide even advanced topics like compiling from source and installing a specific version of the command are within your reach.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of installing and using the ‘ifconfig’ command in Linux. We will cover the installation process on both APT and YUM-based distributions, delve into how to compile ‘ifconfig’ from source, and install a specific version. Finally, we will guide you on how to use the ‘ifconfig’ command and verify that the correct version is installed.

So, let’s get started and master the ‘ifconfig’ command in your Linux system!

TL;DR: How Do I Install the ‘ifconfig’ Command in Linux?

In most Linux distributions, the ‘ifconfig’ command comes pre-installed, you can verify this with, ifconfig -v. If it’s not, you can install it by running the command sudo apt-get install net-tools or sudo yum install net-tools.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install net-tools

# Output:
# Reading package lists... Done
# Building dependency tree
# Reading state information... Done
# net-tools is already the newest version (1.60+git20161116.90da8a0-1ubuntu1).
# 0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

This command updates your package lists, then installs the net-tools package which includes the ‘ifconfig’ command. The output shows that the package is already installed in this case, but if it wasn’t, it would be installed.

This is just a basic way to install the ‘ifconfig’ command in Linux, but there’s much more to learn about installing and using ‘ifconfig’. Continue reading for more detailed information and advanced usage scenarios.

Getting Started with ‘ifconfig’ in Linux

The ‘ifconfig’ command is a fundamental tool for setting up network interfaces in most Unix-like operating systems, including Linux. It’s used to configure, manage, and query TCP/IP network interface parameters. The command is essential for tasks such as setting up hardware like routers, switches, and servers, or for troubleshooting network issues.

Let’s dive into how to install the ‘ifconfig’ command in Linux using different package management systems.

Installing ‘ifconfig’ with APT

If you’re using a Debian-based distribution like Ubuntu, you can install ‘ifconfig’ using the APT package manager. Here’s how:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install net-tools

# Output:
# Reading package lists... Done
# Building dependency tree
# Reading state information... Done
# net-tools is already the newest version (1.60+git20161116.90da8a0-1ubuntu1).
# 0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.

In this example, we first update the package lists for upgrades and new packages with sudo apt update. Next, we install ‘net-tools’ which includes ‘ifconfig’ using sudo apt install net-tools. The output indicates that ‘net-tools’ is already installed.

Installing ‘ifconfig’ with YUM

For Fedora, CentOS, or any other Linux distribution that uses the YUM package manager, you can install ‘ifconfig’ with the following commands:

sudo yum check-update
sudo yum install net-tools

# Output:
# Loaded plugins: fastestmirror
# Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
# net-tools is already installed and latest version

In this example, we first check for system updates with sudo yum check-update. Then, we install ‘net-tools’ using sudo yum install net-tools. The output shows that ‘net-tools’ is already installed and is the latest version.

By following these steps, you should have successfully installed the ‘ifconfig’ command on your Linux system. In the next section, we’ll explore some more advanced installation methods of the ‘ifconfig’ command.

Installing ‘ifconfig’ from Source Code

For those who want to go a step further and install ‘ifconfig’ from source code, here’s how you can do it. This approach is useful when you want to install a specific version of ‘ifconfig’ or when you want to customize the installation.

First, you need to download the source code. ‘ifconfig’ is part of the ‘net-tools’ package, so you need to download the source code for ‘net-tools’. You can do this from the official repository.


# Output:
# Saving to: ‘download’

Then, you need to extract the downloaded file and navigate into the extracted directory.

tar -xvf download

# Output:
# net-tools-1.60/
# net-tools-1.60/ifconfig/

Once you’re in the directory, you can compile and install it with the make and make install commands.

sudo make install

# Output:
# ifconfig is installed successfully

Installing Different Versions of ‘ifconfig’

There might be situations where you need to install a specific version of ‘ifconfig’. This could be due to compatibility issues, or because a certain version has a feature that you need.

Installing Specific Version from Source

When installing from source, you can choose the version by downloading the specific version’s source code. You can usually find this in the ‘releases’ section of the official repository.

Installing Specific Version with APT or YUM

With APT or YUM, you can install a specific version of a package using the = operator followed by the version number. Here’s how you can do it:


sudo apt-get install net-tools=1.60+git20161116.90da8a0-1ubuntu1

# Output:
# net-tools is already the newest version (1.60+git20161116.90da8a0-1ubuntu1).


sudo yum install net-tools-2.0-0.22.20131004git.el7

# Output:
# Package net-tools-2.0-0.22.20131004git.el7.x86_64 already installed and latest version

Key Changes in Different Versions

Different versions of ‘ifconfig’ might come with different features or bug fixes. For example, version 1.60+git20161116.90da8a0-1ubuntu1 might have fixed a bug that was present in the previous version. It’s important to read the release notes of each version to understand the changes.

VersionKey Changes
1.60+git20161116.90da8a0-1ubuntu1Bug fixes
2.0-0.22.20131004git.el7New features

Basic Usage of ‘ifconfig’

Once you have ‘ifconfig’ installed, you can use it to view or configure the network interfaces on your system. Here’s how you can display the details of all network interfaces:


# Output:
# eth0: flags=4163<UP,BROADCAST,RUNNING,MULTICAST>  mtu 1500
#         inet  netmask  broadcast
#         inet6 fe80::a00:27ff:fe4e:5f9a  prefixlen 64  scopeid 0x20<link>
#         ether 08:00:27:4e:5f:9a  txqueuelen 1000  (Ethernet)
#         RX packets 79804  bytes 33475420 (33.4 MB)
#         RX errors 0  dropped 0  overruns 0  frame 0
#         TX packets 48515  bytes 6967698 (6.9 MB)
#         TX errors 0  dropped 0 overruns 0  carrier 0  collisions 0

The output shows the details of the ‘eth0’ network interface, including the IP address, MAC address, and the number of packets received and transmitted.

Verifying the Installation

You can verify that ‘ifconfig’ is installed correctly by running the command with the -v option, which displays the version of ‘ifconfig’.

ifconfig -v

# Output:
# net-tools 2.10-alpha

The output shows the version of ‘net-tools’, which includes ‘ifconfig’. If ‘ifconfig’ is installed correctly, you should see the version number.

Exploring Alternatives to ‘ifconfig’ in Linux

While ‘ifconfig’ is a powerful tool for managing network interfaces in Linux, it’s not the only one. There are other commands that offer similar functionality and can be used as alternatives to ‘ifconfig’. One such command is the ‘ip’ command.

The ‘ip’ Command: A Modern Alternative

The ‘ip’ command is part of the iproute2 package and is considered a more powerful and flexible tool than ‘ifconfig’. It’s gradually replacing ‘ifconfig’ in many Linux distributions.

To install the ‘ip’ command, you can use the package manager of your Linux distribution. Here’s how you can do it in Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install iproute2

# Output:
# Reading package lists... Done
# Building dependency tree
# Reading state information... Done
# iproute2 is already the newest version (4.15.0-2ubuntu1.2).

In this example, we install the iproute2 package using sudo apt-get install iproute2. The output shows that iproute2 is already installed.

Comparing ‘ip’ and ‘ifconfig’

While both ‘ip’ and ‘ifconfig’ can be used to manage network interfaces in Linux, there are some key differences between the two.

ModernityOlder, being phased out in some distributionsModern, being adopted by many distributions
FlexibilityLess flexible, limited functionalityMore flexible, extensive functionality
ComplexityEasier to use, less complex commandsMore complex commands, steeper learning curve

For example, to display the details of all network interfaces, you can use the following command with ‘ip’:

ip addr show

# Output:
# 1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN group default qlen 1000
#     link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
#     inet scope host lo
#        valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
#     inet6 ::1/128 scope host 
#        valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

The output is similar to that of ‘ifconfig’, but it’s presented in a different format.

Choosing Between ‘ifconfig’ and ‘ip’

Whether you should use ‘ifconfig’ or ‘ip’ depends on your specific needs and your familiarity with the commands. If you’re comfortable with ‘ifconfig’ and it meets your needs, there’s no need to switch. However, if you need more flexibility and functionality, or if you’re using a Linux distribution that no longer supports ‘ifconfig’, then ‘ip’ might be a better choice.

Troubleshooting ‘ifconfig’ in Linux

While ‘ifconfig’ is a powerful tool for managing network interfaces in Linux, you might encounter some issues while using it. Let’s go over some common problems and their solutions.

‘ifconfig’ Command Not Found

One of the most common issues is getting a ‘command not found’ error when trying to use ‘ifconfig’. This usually means that ‘ifconfig’ is not installed on your system or it’s not in your system’s PATH.

If ‘ifconfig’ is not installed, you can install it using your package manager as we discussed earlier. If ‘ifconfig’ is installed but not in your PATH, you can add it using the following command:

export PATH=$PATH:/path/to/ifconfig

# Output:
# No output. The command adds '/path/to/ifconfig' to the PATH environment variable.

Replace ‘/path/to/ifconfig’ with the actual path to the ‘ifconfig’ command. The ‘export’ command adds the specified path to the PATH environment variable, making ‘ifconfig’ accessible from anywhere.

No Network Interfaces Displayed

Another common issue is that ‘ifconfig’ does not display any network interfaces. This could be due to several reasons, including network interfaces being down or not having any network interfaces other than the loopback interface.

You can bring a network interface up using the ‘ifconfig’ command followed by the interface name and ‘up’:

sudo ifconfig eth0 up

# Output:
# No output. The command brings the 'eth0' network interface up.

Replace ‘eth0’ with the name of your network interface.

Incorrect IP Address Displayed

If ‘ifconfig’ is displaying an incorrect IP address, it could be due to the network interface not being configured correctly. You can configure the IP address using the ‘ifconfig’ command followed by the interface name, the IP address, and ‘netmask’:

sudo ifconfig eth0 netmask

# Output:
# No output. The command sets the IP address of the 'eth0' network interface to '' and the netmask to ''.

Replace ‘eth0’ with the name of your network interface, ‘’ with the desired IP address, and ‘’ with the desired netmask.

By understanding these common issues and their solutions, you can troubleshoot ‘ifconfig’ effectively and ensure your network interfaces are configured correctly.

Understanding Network Interfaces in Linux

Before we dive deeper into the ‘ifconfig’ command, it’s crucial to understand the concept of network interfaces in Linux. A network interface is the point of interconnection between a computer and a private or public network. A computer typically has a network interface card (NIC) with associated circuitry, required for communicating with a network.

In Linux, these network interfaces are represented as files like any other device. For example, the Ethernet interface is often represented as ‘eth0’ or ‘enp2s0’.

You can list all the network interfaces on your Linux system using the ‘ls’ command:

ls /sys/class/net

# Output:
# eth0  lo  wlan0

In this example, ‘eth0’ is the Ethernet interface, ‘lo’ is the loopback interface, and ‘wlan0’ is the wireless network interface.

The Importance of Network Management in Linux

Network management is a critical aspect of system administration. It involves the coordination, administration, and management of a network’s resources, services, and devices. In Linux, network management includes tasks like setting up network interfaces, configuring network services, monitoring network traffic, and troubleshooting network problems.

The ‘ifconfig’ command in Linux is a fundamental tool for network management. It allows you to configure and manage network interfaces, making it an essential tool for system administrators.

Understanding the underlying concepts of network interfaces and the importance of network management in Linux will help you better understand and use the ‘ifconfig’ command.

Network Management: The Key to System Administration and Security

Understanding and managing your Linux system’s network interfaces is more than just a technical skill. It’s an essential part of system administration and security. With tools like ‘ifconfig’, you can ensure that your system’s network interfaces are configured correctly and working as expected. This can help prevent potential network issues and enhance your system’s security.

Exploring IP Routing in Linux

Beyond network interface configuration, there’s the broader topic of IP routing. IP routing is the process of setting up and controlling the routes of data packets in a network. In Linux, you can manage IP routing using commands like ‘ip route’ and ‘route’.

ip route show

# Output:
# default via dev eth0 proto dhcp src metric 202 
# dev eth0 proto kernel scope link src 
# dev eth0 proto dhcp scope link src metric 202

This command displays the current routing table of your Linux system. The output shows the default route and the routes for the local network.

Troubleshooting Network Issues in Linux

Another important aspect of network management is troubleshooting network issues. Tools like ‘ping’, ‘traceroute’, and ‘netstat’ can help diagnose and resolve network problems.

ping -c 4

# Output:
# PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
# 64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=56 time=11.0 ms
# 64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=56 time=10.9 ms
# 64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=56 time=10.8 ms
# 64 bytes from ( icmp_seq=4 ttl=56 time=10.8 ms

This command sends four ICMP echo requests to and displays the response. The output shows the round-trip time for each request, helping you determine if the network connection to is working correctly.

Further Resources for Linux Networking Mastery

If you want to dive deeper into network management in Linux, here are some resources that you might find helpful:

Wrapping Up: Installing ‘ifconfig’ for Network Interface Management in Linux

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve navigated the world of ‘ifconfig’, a key command for managing network interfaces in Linux.

We began with the basics, demonstrating how to install ‘ifconfig’ in Linux using package managers like APT and YUM. We then delved into more advanced territory, discussing how to install ‘ifconfig’ from source and how to use the command to manage network interfaces.

We’ve also addressed common issues that you might encounter when using ‘ifconfig’, such as the command not being found or no network interfaces being displayed, and provided solutions to these problems. Additionally, we’ve explored alternative approaches to network interface management, comparing ‘ifconfig’ with the ‘ip’ command.

‘ifconfig’ModerateLowBeing phased out in some distributions
‘ip’HighModerateBeing adopted by many distributions

Whether you’re just starting out with ‘ifconfig’ or you’re looking to deepen your understanding of network interface management in Linux, we hope this guide has been a valuable resource.

With its balance of simplicity and functionality, ‘ifconfig’ remains a powerful tool for network interface management in Linux. Happy networking!