I have numerous linux boxes with a very limited set of commands and disk space. But it has the telnet command on it.

I remotely connect to each of these probes (programmatically) and issue one line linux command through SSH.

I need to run a single command to connect to a specific machine, using telnet, and then disconnect right away.

I can do all that, but the disconnection right away part. Telnet opens some sort of a console, or terminal and I can't figure out a one-line command to run the telnet command and then disconnect right away.

If I do that, I can easily parse the textual output for error messages for not being able to connect to the machine on the specified port and that's exactly what I am looking for.

So how can I run a one-line command to connect to a machine using telnet and disconnect afterwards ?

  • As I understand your Telnet client does not support sending directly? – IBr Aug 13 '13 at 11:36
  • @IBr, what do you mean ? – Muhammad Gelbana Aug 13 '13 at 12:14
  • Note that telent clients differ in exit code reported after client side exit command is used to terminate it. So zero exit code should not be considered a signal the port is opened. Does not work for RHEL telent RPM at least. – Oliver Gondža Jan 6 '17 at 9:59

You ought to be able to pipe the exit command into STDIN in telnet. Try:

echo 'exit' | telnet {site} {port}

and see if that works. (it seems to work on my web server, but YMMV).

  • might work but seems dumb - telnet should have an option to exit or something on first contact – Alexander Mills May 31 at 1:44

The simplest and easiest method is given below.

 sleep <n> | telnet <server> <port>

n - The wait time in seconds before auto exit. It could be fractional like 0.5. Note that some required output may not be returned in the specified wait time. So we may need to increase accordingly.

server - The target server IP or hostname.

port - Target service port number.

You can also redirect the output to file like this,

sleep 1 | telnet <server> <port> > output.log
  • This works perfectly! While the output is indeed redirected, I noticed I still get the "Connection closed by foreign host." output in my console after the sleep rather than in the output.log file. Any way to prevent this? – dnLL Apr 3 at 18:43

I think better tool for sending commands directly and just getting output would be netcat. It just simple, but powerful tool for putting commands through ports. You could see usage example in this superuser question: https://superuser.com/questions/261900/how-can-i-pipe-commands-to-a-netcat-that-will-stay-alive - asker gives working example in which connection closes after few seconds.

And if you want just to test connectivity use this: http://terminalinflection.com/use-netcat-not-telnet-to-test-network-connectivity/

  • I'm trying to install netcat right now but I'm unable to do so. I downloaded a compiled powerpc version but glibc library was missing. I downloaded a compiled powerpc version but the device didn't have enough space to copy the library files ! Is it possible that the glibc library already exists but netcat can't find it ? – Muhammad Gelbana Aug 13 '13 at 12:13
  • Netcat is needed only on client side: on server (probe) can be the same plain old telnet. – IBr Aug 13 '13 at 13:23
  • Also Glibc should exist already, it is used on much stuff in usual system. – IBr Aug 13 '13 at 13:28
  • You could try to add to telnet scripts && exit see if it disconnects (in ssh at least it is enough). – IBr Aug 13 '13 at 13:35
  • && exit didn't work. If glibc should exist and I believe it does. Why would nc.traditional complain about it as if it's missing ? – Muhammad Gelbana Aug 13 '13 at 14:38

In my case this works. (CentOs7):

while read host port; do
r=$(bash -c 'exec 3<> /dev/tcp/'$host'/'$port';echo $?' 2>/dev/null)
if [ "$r" = "0" ]; then
     echo "$host $port is open"
     echo "$host $port is closed"
     exit 1 # To force fail result in ShellScript

:) Regards

  • 1
    Hey, this is great. I am a user on all the Linux systems at my job, but not the admin (and have no admin rights). I'm sick of asking them to install telnet all the time so I can test network connectivity (I'm a network engineer). This is an excellent workaround. I changed it a little to perform more like telnet. I provided my own answer here with the modifications. – theglossy1 Nov 22 '17 at 16:39

This is another version of the answer above that makes it act a little more like "normal" telnet syntax. If you like my answer, please give an upvote not to this, but to the original.

if [ "$2" == "" ]; then
 echo "Syntax: $0 <host> <port>"


r=$(bash -c 'exec 3<> /dev/tcp/'$host'/'$port';echo $?' 2>/dev/null)
if [ "$r" = "0" ]; then
     echo "$host $port is open"
     echo "$host $port is closed"
     exit 1 # To force fail result in ShellScript

Here is solution I found on Internet:

( echo open 23
sleep 5
echo your_login
sleep 5
echo your_password
sleep 5
echo hostname
sleep 5
echo exit ) | telnet

It works for me on SunOS & HP-UX



echo -e '\x1dclose\x0d' | telnet {HOSTNAME} {PORT}

Best part of above is you get exit status also. If telnet is success exit code will be 0 or else its 1

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