I want to get DNS A records in realtime with tcpdump on stdout.

tcpdump -i any dst port 53 | awk '/ A\? / {u = NF - 1; print $u}' | sed 's/.$//g'

There is no output coming from the above line. Tcpdump seems still buffering on pipes or something. I've tested -l --immediate-mode and -U as well.

The line below outputs properly (in realtime) but obviously unfiltered (no grep/awk):

tcpdump -i any dst port 53

If i send its output lines manually to the awk/sed commands above they do work properly.

Everything tested on Arch Linux and Android 8.1 (bash, tcpdump 4.9.2).

Question: How to get tcpdump output in realtime with pipe/awk/sed?

There is an old thread from 2011 that doesn't fix the problem. How to process/pipe TCPDUMPs output in realtime

  • did you turn off buffering in awk and in sed and in ... unix.stackexchange.com/questions/25372/…
    – thrig
    Jul 17, 2018 at 18:33
  • I've tried sudo unbuffer tcpdump -i any dst port 53 | unbuffer awk '/ A\? / {u = NF - 1; print $u}' | unbuffer sed 's/.$//g' but it doesn't help.
    – Maniaxx
    Jul 17, 2018 at 19:29

1 Answer 1


Try this variant:

tcpdump -l -i any dst port 53 | stdbuf -oL awk '/ A\? / {u = NF - 1; print $u}' | sed 's/.$//g'

You have to buffer every line of tcpdump output, option -l is used for that.

From man tcpdump:

-l     Make stdout line buffered.  Useful if you want to see the data while capturing it.

To make awk output line buffering stdbuf is used.

-o, --output=MODE  adjust standard output stream buffering
If MODE is 'L' the corresponding stream will be line buffered.
  • Works on Arch Linux but not on Android (no stdbuf binary). Any solution for Android?
    – Maniaxx
    Jul 18, 2018 at 19:29

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