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

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… add one }

  • Anonymous June 19, 2006, 9:27 pm

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

  • Anonymous June 19, 2006, 11:18 pm

    thank you very much ….that is help full

  • Anonymous June 26, 2006, 8:49 pm

    Thanks alot

  • asghar jan November 21, 2006, 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

  • Amir December 13, 2006, 11:06 am


  • robin July 9, 2007, 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..

    • sandeep October 19, 2011, 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.

  • Larry August 10, 2007, 10:28 pm

    so simple… so necessary. Thanks

  • Renish Ladani August 25, 2007, 7:38 am

    # chkconfig telnet on
    # service xinetd reload

    these both commands are useful on RHEL 4

  • Raghavendra September 5, 2007, 4:45 am

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

  • BS September 13, 2007, 4:40 pm

    Thanks a lot! I used it for Fedora 6.0.

  • lonelywolf October 3, 2007, 3:37 am

    Thanks a lot!

  • Andrew Husselhof December 26, 2007, 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

  • Patric Conant December 31, 2007, 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.

  • john fraize February 27, 2008, 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

  • Patric Conant June 10, 2008, 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 …

  • Alvare July 12, 2008, 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.

  • Michael Ebbage January 13, 2009, 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.

  • anilkumar February 2, 2009, 9:30 am

    inredhat linux i want to telnet config

  • A.Ahmed February 16, 2009, 11:07 am

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

  • shanmuga February 27, 2009, 6:12 am

    thank you for your useful configuration

  • raja March 12, 2009, 9:58 am

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

  • thepul April 6, 2009, 6:05 am

    Your article was really helpful

  • mohammad May 26, 2009, 7:07 pm

    lot of thanks

  • ankurk August 13, 2009, 11:39 am

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

  • rameshr March 15, 2010, 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

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

    Thanks that was really helpful

  • Arun June 30, 2010, 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

  • Rohit September 1, 2010, 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

  • thirisangu November 23, 2010, 6:55 am

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

  • Mauro Gagna February 3, 2011, 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

  • Swamy February 18, 2011, 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

  • RCruz February 21, 2011, 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.

  • zaheeralam March 18, 2011, 8:49 am

    this is very user full for me

  • MUKESH KUMAR YADAV June 6, 2011, 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

  • Ryan July 19, 2011, 7:58 pm

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

  • subh July 19, 2011, 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

  • shabbir August 1, 2011, 4:01 pm

    thanks for your suggestion

  • pradeep nair September 3, 2011, 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

  • suman September 15, 2014, 11:03 pm

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

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