Linux Network Interface Configuration tool - ifconfig

The Linux computer's network interface TCP/IP settings can be configured from the command line, using the Linux ifconfig command.

If no argument is given, ifconfig displays the status of active interfaces.

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:0C:29:DB:54:D8
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::20c:29ff:fedb:54d8/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:93 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:47 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:15519 (15.1 KiB) TX bytes:8138 (7.9 KiB)
Interrupt:169 Base address:0x2024

lo Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr: Mask:
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
RX packets:1545 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1545 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:2357260 (2.2 MiB) TX bytes:2357260 (2.2 MiB)

The following are the main entries in the output.

• inet : displays the IP address for the interface.
• UP : shows that the interface is ready for use
• BROADCAST: denotes that the interface is connected to a network that supports broadcast messaging (ethernet)
• RUNNING: shows that the interface is operating
• LOOPBACK shows which device (lo) is the loopback address.
• MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit) on eth0 is 1500 bytes. This determines the size of the largest packet that can be transmitted over this interface.
• Metric: This metric is used by the Routing Information Protocol (RIP) to build routing tables for the network.

To deactivate the first ethernet device on a host, use the following command.

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig eth0 down

To activate the first ethernet device on a host, use the following command.

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig eth0 up

An interface can be configured and activated by specifying an IP address and network information. For example, to configure and activate (“bring up”) the eth0 interface with a specific IP address, use the ifconfig command like this:

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig eth0 netmask up

If a host entry is defined in the hosts (/etc/hosts) file you can activate the interface by using the defined hostname.

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig eth0 up

The following table lists the important switches of ifconfig command.




Activates the specified adapter.


Deactivates the specified adapter.

netmask <address>

Assigns the address subnet mask.

broadcast <address>

Assigns the address as the broadcast address. Rarely used.

metric <value>

Metric Value

mtu  <value>

MTU value


Deactivates the Address Resolution Protocol


Activates promiscuous mode. This allows the network adapter to read all packets to all hosts on the LAN.


Deactivates promiscuous mode.

IP aliasing using ifconfig command

IP aliasing is the process of adding more than one IP address to a network interface. When you set up a Linux system's network, you typically assign one IP address per network interface card (NIC). But in some situations you require more ip addresses for an interface.

The following commands shows how to set multiple ip addresses for an interface and make it up.

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig eth0:1 netmask

[root@RHEL03 ~]# ifconfig eth0:1 netmask

Related Tutorials
• Common Linux network tools - ping, telnet, netstat and arp
• Linux xinetd Super Server daemon
• Important Linux network configuration files
• How to configure Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) in Linux
• Introduction to Domain Name System (DNS)
• Linux Domain Name System (DNS) client configuration files /etc/hosts, /etc/nsswitch.conf and /etc/resolv.conf
• Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) as a DNS server
• How to configure caching-only name server
• BIND configuration file (/etc/named.conf)
• Domain Name System (DNS) zone files
• RNDC (Remote Name Daemon Control)