How do I check if a port is in use on Linux?

I am a new Linux system user. I need to find out which process is listening on a port on Linux using the command line. How do you find out which process is listening on a port on Linux operating systems?

A network port in Linux is nothing but a number that identifies one side of a connection between two systems. All networked devices use port numbers to determine to which process a message should be delivered. The domain name and IP address are like a street address, and port numbers are like room numbers.

Popular port numbers in Linux

  • HTTP – TCP 80
  • HTTPS – TCP 443
  • POP3 – TCP 110
  • SMTP – TCP 25
  • SSH – TCP 22
  • DNS/DOMAIN – TCP/UDP 53

Use the cat command or grep command/egrep command to query port numbers as follows:
cat /etc/services
grep -w 80 /etc/services
egrep -w '53/(tcp|udp)' /etc/services

How to check if a port is in use on Linux

The procedure is as follows:

  1. Open the terminal application
  2. Type any one of the followin command to check if a port is in use on Linux
    sudo lsof -i -P -n | grep LISTEN
    sudo netstat -tulpn | grep LISTEN
    sudo netstat -tulpn | grep :443
    sudo ss -tulpn | grep LISTEN
    sudo ss -tulpn | grep ':22'

Let us see some examples and sample commands in details.

How can you find out which process is listening on a port on Linux

Type the ss command or netstat command to see if a TCP port 443 is in use on Linux?
sudo netstat -tulpn | grep :443
sudo ss -tulpn | grep :443

If a port is open, you should see the output as follows:

tcp    0  0 0.0.0.0:443    0.0.0.0:*      LISTEN      438/nginx -g daemo

The port 443 is in use and opened by nginx service. Where,

  • -t : Display TCP sockets/port
  • -u : Show UDP sockets/port
  • -l : See only listening sockets i.e. open port
  • -p : Also display process name that opened port/socket
  • -n : View addresses and port numbers in numerical format. Do not use DNS to resolve names.

Getting a list of all open port in production

Simply run:
sudo lsof -i -P -n | grep LISTEN
sudo ss -tulpn
sudo netstat -tulpn

Sample outputs:

Active Internet connections (only servers)
Proto Recv-Q Send-Q Local Address           Foreign Address         State       PID/Program name
tcp        0      0 127.0.0.1:6379          0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      500/redis-server 12
tcp        0      0 0.0.0.0:80              0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      438/nginx -g daemon
tcp        0      0 127.0.0.1:8080          0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      407/lighttpd    
tcp        0      0 0.0.0.0:443             0.0.0.0:*               LISTEN      438/nginx -g daemon
tcp6       0      0 :::80                   :::*                    LISTEN      438/nginx -g daemon
udp        0      0 0.0.0.0:68              0.0.0.0:*                           277/dhclient

Another outputs from the lsof command:

From the above outputs, it is clear that Lighttpd opened port TCP port 8080 and Nginx server opened TCP 80 and 443 ports. All of these servers run under a user named “www-data”.

Conclusion

You learned how to see if a port is in use on a Linux based machine using various command line utilities.


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