How do I turn on telnet service on for a Linux / FreeBSD system?

by on March 24, 2006 · 40 comments· LAST UPDATED December 28, 2007

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Q. Can you example how can I install telnet service or server under Linux or FreeBSD operating system?

A. TELNET (TELetype NETwork) is a network protocol used on the Internet or local area network LAN connections.

The telnetd program (telnet server) is a server which supports the DARPA telnet interactive communication protocol. Telnetd is normally invoked by the internet server inetd or xinetd for requests to connect to the telnet port as indicated by the /etc/services file. Usaually telnet listen on port TCP port 23.

Telnet in is insecure protocol and it is recommended that you use ssh server. But some time you really need telnet then first install telnet server as according to version of Linux distribution.

Telnet server installation

WARNING! Installing telnet open your computer to unencrypted network communication, which is a bad idea. If possible avoid telnet; and use secure shell called ssh.

Debain/Ubuntu Linux user type the following command:
# apt-get install telnetd
$ sudo apt-get install telnetdFedora Linux user the following command:
# yum install telnet-server telnetRed Hat enterprise Linux user type the following command:
up2date telnet-server telnetFreeBSD user type the following command:
No need to install new (telnet server) package, it is installed by default (/usr/libexec/telnetd)

Configure telnet server (turn on telnet server)

Again each distribution has its own method to turn on or off telnet service; same applies to telnet UNIX/Linux server.

If you are using Red Hat / Fedora Linux
The configuration file for telnet is /etc/xinetd.d/telnet. To enable telnet server you need to open this file and make sure disable = no read as disable = yes.
# chkconfig telnet onTo start telnet server type command:
# /etc/init.d/xinetd restartIf you are using Debian Linux
The configuration file for telnet is /etc/inetd.conf. By default it is enabled when you install telnet server. To start telnet server type command:
# /etc/init.d/inetd restartIf you are using FreeBSD
The configuration file for telnet is /etc/inetd.conf. Open file using vi text editor and uncomment line:
# vi /etc/inetd.conf
Make sure commented line:
#telnet stream tcp nowait root /usr/libexec/telnetd telnetdRead as follows:
telnet stream tcp nowait root /usr/libexec/telnetd telnetdSave and close the file. Start telnet service:

Enable inetd service so that telnet get loaded:
# vi /etc/rc.confAppend/add following line to configuration file:
inetd_enable="YES"Save and close the file, Rsstart telnet via inetd service:
# /etc/rc.d/inetd restart

Telnet to server (How do I use telnet client?)

You should now be able to telnet to the server from Windows or Linux desktop system. Type the following command to connect to Telnet server:telnet server-ip-address

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous June 19, 2006 at 9:27 pm

Thanks, man! That was really helpful! I have been looking for a telnet manual like this a long time.


2 Anonymous June 19, 2006 at 11:18 pm

thank you very much ….that is help full


3 Anonymous June 26, 2006 at 8:49 pm

Thanks alot


4 asghar jan November 21, 2006 at 9:05 am

dear sir,
i am asghar jan from pakistan.sir i am the bigenner of linux. i need ur help with supporting docoment and speacially linux commond.
thanking you


5 Amir December 13, 2006 at 11:06 am



6 robin July 9, 2007 at 8:26 am

what should we do if there is no telnet file in redhat linux 9… and how to install the same if its not there..


7 sandeep October 19, 2011 at 6:19 am

u insert linux dvd ok,in command prompt #mount /dev/cdrom /mnt
#cd /mnt
#cd Server
#rpm -ivh telnet*
#cd /etc/xinetd.d/
#vi telnet
disable = yes (u change that one as no,and save a file)
#/etc/init.d/xinetd restart
#telnet servername
it works ok.


8 Larry August 10, 2007 at 10:28 pm

so simple… so necessary. Thanks


9 Renish Ladani August 25, 2007 at 7:38 am

# chkconfig telnet on
# service xinetd reload

these both commands are useful on RHEL 4


10 Raghavendra September 5, 2007 at 4:45 am

thanks alot , this document is very helpful & i am able to find solution for my prlm, thanks


11 BS September 13, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Thanks a lot! I used it for Fedora 6.0.


12 lonelywolf October 3, 2007 at 3:37 am

Thanks a lot!


13 Andrew Husselhof December 26, 2007 at 3:43 am

Most people should be aware using telnet is *VERY* bad practice for remote administration. It’s transmission is unencrypted and is therefore very insecure. SSH is by far a more robust, offers additional features, and is by design more secure. It would be available in redhat distros via yum install sshd or debian based distro via aptitude install sshd


14 Patric Conant December 31, 2007 at 5:24 pm

This is the single-most irresponsible piece of documentation I have ever seen. Without a long explanation, NEVER do this. If you are new enough to administrating a *nix (Linux, UNIX, BSD) machine that you aren’t familiar with your system’s package management system in almost all circumstances you are not qualified to start or maintain a service that publishes system credentials in plain text. Your system probably already has SSH and starts it by default.


15 john fraize February 27, 2008 at 10:48 pm

FYI even the sshd is not installed as default.

Yes telnet is unsecure, but boy is it handy.
For an internal LAN in a small office, I use it.
You can use it from any PC with having to install any package.

this worked for me ubuntu 7.10
sudo apt-get install telnetd
sudo /etc/init.d/openbsd-initd restart

FYI to enagle sshd I used
sudo apt-get install openssh-server


16 Patric Conant June 10, 2008 at 5:33 pm

john fraize proves my point entirely, I suppose he has reason to believe that his LAN traffic has never been analyzed, and that the Windows machine he had to re-image last week because of a virus couldn’t have possibly given anyone interested in his traffic system credentials on his Linux box, but in real-life these aren’t valid assumptions …


17 Alvare July 12, 2008 at 6:31 pm

to start telnetd in my debian lenny i had to use /usr/sbin/in.telnetd , or sudo in.telnetd, after installing telnetd with apt.


18 Michael Ebbage January 13, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for the guide, I got telnet installed and running on a remote server in less than 5 minutes thanks to this.


19 anilkumar February 2, 2009 at 9:30 am

inredhat linux i want to telnet config


20 A.Ahmed February 16, 2009 at 11:07 am

The above info is very useful… it helped me … so thanks for posting…


21 shanmuga February 27, 2009 at 6:12 am

thank you for your useful configuration


22 raja March 12, 2009 at 9:58 am

how to configure more than 100 telnet ip address
it wiil be only connecting 40or50


23 thepul April 6, 2009 at 6:05 am

Your article was really helpful


24 mohammad May 26, 2009 at 7:07 pm

lot of thanks


25 ankurk August 13, 2009 at 11:39 am

i found the aforementioned tips to be really useful…
thank you .


26 rameshr March 15, 2010 at 7:00 am

hellow sir i am ramesh bigenner how to configure more than 60 telnet ip address
it wiil be only connecting 40or50 please sent my mail address


27 Viknesh S T G M June 29, 2010 at 4:53 am

Thanks that was really helpful


28 Arun June 30, 2010 at 10:25 am

Hi i am not able to enable Telnet service in my PC even i Used sudo apt-get install telnetd command in Ubuntu 9.04, is anything i need to install in the system to enable Telnet in my PC


29 Rohit September 1, 2010 at 6:01 am

I got the following error while installing xinetd service

Header V3 DSA Signature NOKEY,key ID 37017186

Give me steps to start the telnet service on Red Hat Linux


30 thirisangu November 23, 2010 at 6:55 am

i was installed windows and Red Hat in bot pc how can i mount the ntfs file in my linux os


31 Mauro Gagna February 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

To install telnet in Debian Lenny (debian 5) yo have to do:

apt-get install telnetd

/etc/init.d/openbsd-inetd restart


32 Swamy February 18, 2011 at 10:32 am

I am a Ubuntu user, I am not able to use telnet, please let me know how it works.
I am getting following error …
#sudo apt-get install telnetd

sudo] password for ubuntu:
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
E: Unable to locate package telnetd


33 RCruz February 21, 2011 at 8:11 pm

I have the same problem that Swamy.
E: Unable to locate package telnetd.

I have Ubuntu Server 10.10 in a VM over Windows with the network configured in Bridge mode.

Please any help or direction will be welcome.

Thanks in advance.


34 zaheeralam March 18, 2011 at 8:49 am

this is very user full for me


35 MUKESH KUMAR YADAV June 6, 2011 at 6:26 am

=> Click Application > Accessories > Terminal
=> sudo bash
=> apt-get install xinetd telnetd
=> After Downloading this package
=> gedit /etc/inetd.conf
write this syntex in this file
Syntex = telnet stram tcp nowait telnetd /usr/sbin/tcp /usr/sbinin.telnetd
after saving this file
=> service xinetd restart
=> gedit /etc/xinetd.d/telne
service start
disable = no
flags = REUSE
socket_type = stream
wait = no
user = root
server = /user/sbin/in.telnetd
log_on_failure += USERID

=> service xinetd restart
enjoy the telnet service


36 Ryan July 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

people with the same problem as Swamy and RCruz:
you actually need to do a
sudo apt-get install inetutils-telnetd


37 subh July 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm

can u tell me what is problem while giving my bt login and password it is not allowing to enter giving login failure


38 shabbir August 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm

thanks for your suggestion


39 pradeep nair September 3, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I can connect to unix sco server through pc by using telnet but i am not able to connect it through my hcl thin clients. kindly suggest how do i connect to my unix server through telnet
from my thin clients
thanks a lot in advance


40 suman September 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

how to install in dns package in rhel6 linux plse guide step and step ?


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