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General Information

Wireshark is a network traffic analyzer, or "sniffer", for Unix and Unix-like operating systems. It uses Qt, a graphical user interface library, and libpcap, a packet capture and filtering library.

The Wireshark distribution also comes with TShark, which is a line-oriented sniffer (similar to Sun’s snoop, or tcpdump) that uses the same dissection, capture-file reading and writing, and packet filtering code as Wireshark, and with editcap, which is a program to read capture files and write the packets from that capture file, possibly in a different capture file format, and with some packets possibly removed from the capture.

The official home of Wireshark is


The latest distribution can be found in the subdirectory



The Wireshark project builds and tests regularly on the following platforms:

  • Linux (Ubuntu)
  • Microsoft Windows
  • macOS / OS X

Official installation packages are available for Microsoft Windows and macOS.

It is available as either a standard or add-on package for many popular operating sytems and Linux distributions including Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, RHEL, Arch, Gentoo, openSUSE, FreeBSD, DragonFly BSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.

Additionaly it is available through many third-party packaging systems such as pkgsrc, OpenCSW, Homebrew, and MacPorts.

It should run on other Unix-ish systems without too much trouble.

In some cases the current version of Wireshark might not support your operating system. This is the case for Windows XP, which is supported by Wireshark 1.10 and earlier. In other cases the standard package for Wireshark might simply be old. This is the case for Solaris and HP-UX.

NOTE: The Makefile depends on GNU "make"; it doesn’t appear to work with the "make" that comes with Solaris 7 nor the BSD "make".

Both Perl and Python are needed, the former for building the man pages.

If you decide to modify the yacc grammar or lex scanner, then you need "flex" - it cannot be built with vanilla "lex" - and either "bison" or the Berkeley "yacc". Your flex version must be 2.5.1 or greater. Check this with ’flex -V’.

You must therefore install Perl, Python, GNU "make", "flex", and either "bison" or Berkeley "yacc" on systems that lack them.

Full installation instructions can be found in the INSTALL file and in the Developer’s Guide at https://www.wireshark.org/docs/wsdg_html_chunked/

See also the appropriate README. files for OS-specific installation instructions.


In order to capture packets from the network, you need to make the dumpcap program set-UID to root, or you need to have access to the appropriate entry under /dev if your system is so inclined (BSD-derived systems, and systems such as Solaris and HP-UX that support DLPI, typically fall into this category). Although it might be tempting to make the Wireshark and TShark executables setuid root, or to run them as root please don’t. The capture process has been isolated in dumpcap; this simple program is less likely to contain security holes, and thus safer to run as root.

Please consult the man page for a description of each command-line option and interface feature.

Multiple File Types

The wiretap library is a packet-capture library currently under development parallel to wireshark. In the future it is hoped that wiretap will have more features than libpcap, but wiretap is still in its infancy. However, wiretap is used in wireshark for its ability to read multiple file types. See the Wireshark man page or the Wireshark User’s Guide for a list of supported file formats.

In addition, it can read gzipped versions of any of those files automatically, if you have the zlib library available when compiling Wireshark. Wireshark needs a modern version of zlib to be able to use zlib to read gzipped files; version 1.1.3 is known to work. Versions prior to 1.0.9 are missing some functions that Wireshark needs and won’t work. "./configure" should detect if you have the proper zlib version available and, if you don’t, should disable zlib support. You can always use "./configure —disable-zlib" to explicitly disable zlib support.

Although Wireshark can read AIX iptrace files, the documentation on AIX’s iptrace packet-trace command is sparse. The ’iptrace’ command starts a daemon which you must kill in order to stop the trace. Through experimentation it appears that sending a HUP signal to that iptrace daemon causes a graceful shutdown and a complete packet is written to the trace file. If a partial packet is saved at the end, Wireshark will complain when reading that file, but you will be able to read all other packets. If this occurs, please let the Wireshark developers know at wireshark-dev@wireshark.org, and be sure to send us a copy of that trace file if it’s small and contains non-sensitive data.

Support for Lucent/Ascend products is limited to the debug trace output generated by the MAX and Pipline series of products. Wireshark can read the output of the "wandsession" "wandisplay", "wannext", and "wdd" commands.

Wireshark can also read dump trace output from the Toshiba "Compact Router" line of ISDN routers (TR-600 and TR-650). You can telnet to the router and start a dump session with "snoop dump".

CoSine L2 debug output can also be read by Wireshark. To get the L2 debug output, get in the diags mode first and then use "create-pkt-log-profile" and "apply-pkt-log-profile" commands under layer-2 category. For more detail how to use these commands, you should examine the help command by "layer-2 create ?" or "layer-2 apply ?".

To use the Lucent/Ascend, Toshiba and CoSine traces with Wireshark, you must capture the trace output to a file on disk. The trace is happening inside the router and the router has no way of saving the trace to a file for you. An easy way of doing this under Unix is to run "telnet | tee ". Or, if your system has the "script" command installed, you can save a shell session, including telnet to a file. For example, to a file named tracefile.out:

$ script tracefile.out Script started on $ telnet router ..... do your trace, then exit from the router’s telnet session. $ exit Script done on

Name Resolution

Wireshark will attempt to use reverse name resolution capabilities when decoding IPv4 and IPv6 packets.

If you want to turn off name resolution while using Wireshark, start Wireshark with the "-n" option to turn off all name resolution (including resolution of MAC addresses and TCP/UDP/SMTP port numbers to names), or with the "-N mt" option to turn off name resolution for all network-layer addresses (IPv4, IPv6, IPX).

You can make that the default setting by opening the Preferences dialog box using the Preferences item in the Edit menu, selecting "Name resolution", turning off the appropriate name resolution options, clicking "Save", and clicking "OK".


Wireshark can do some basic decoding of SNMP packets; it can also use the libsmi library to do more sophisticated decoding, by reading MIB files and using the information in those files to display OIDs and variable binding values in a friendlier fashion. The configure script will automatically determine whether you have the libsmi library on your system. If you have the libsmi library but do not want to have Wireshark use it, you can run configure with the "—without-libsmi" option.

How to Report a Bug

Wireshark is under constant development, so it is possible that you will encounter a bug while using it. Please report bugs at https://bugs.wireshark.org. Be sure you enter into the bug:

  1. The complete build information from the "About Wireshark" item in the Help menu or the output of "wireshark -v" for Wireshark bugs and the output of "tshark -v" for TShark bugs;

  2. If the bug happened on Linux, the Linux distribution you were using, and the version of that distribution;

  3. The command you used to invoke Wireshark, if you ran Wireshark from the command line, or TShark, if you ran TShark, and the sequence of operations you performed that caused the bug to appear.

If the bug is produced by a particular trace file, please be sure to attach to the bug a trace file along with your bug description. If the trace file contains sensitive information (e.g., passwords), then please do not send it.

If Wireshark died on you with a ’segmentation violation’, ’bus error’, ’abort’, or other error that produces a UNIX core dump file, you can help the developers a lot if you have a debugger installed. A stack trace can be obtained by using your debugger (’gdb’ in this example), the wireshark binary, and the resulting core file. Here’s an example of how to use the gdb command ’backtrace’ to do so.

$ gdb wireshark core (gdb) backtrace ..... prints the stack trace (gdb) quit $

The core dump file may be named "wireshark.core" rather than "core" on some platforms (e.g., BSD systems). If you got a core dump with TShark rather than Wireshark, use "tshark" as the first argument to the debugger; the core dump may be named "tshark.core".


There is no warranty, expressed or implied, associated with this product. Use at your own risk.

Gerald Combs gerald@wireshark.org

Gilbert Ramirez gram@alumni.rice.edu

Guy Harris guy@alum.mit.edu

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