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

Posted on in Categories , , , , , , last updated December 28, 2007

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

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. He has worked with global clients and in various industries, including IT, education, defense and space research, and the nonprofit sector. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+.

40 comment

    1. 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.

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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 …

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. => 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

  9. sir,
    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

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