The book called "UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, 5th Edition" on a page about traceroute, in the footnote is saying that "Windows have it's own version, named tracert (special points on history knowledge for everyone who knows why)". I translated it from my language to english, so in english version it might me worded different.

Do you know why it's "tracert", not "traceroute", and is there really some interesting historical explanation, like "windows couldn't have commands longer than X letters back in the days" or things like that?

//BTW as I suspected it might be something with long words. Someone told me that it might have something to do with Windows 8.3 naming convention

8.3 filenames are limited to at most eight characters

Is it the reason of "tracert" name or is it just red herring?

  • 1
    I think you have nailed it with the 8.3. I would be surprised if there is a reason beyond that.
    – Burgi
    Sep 19, 2018 at 8:14
  • 2
    It is suggested that questions to be left unaccepted for 24 hours to allow others to also reply.
    – Burgi
    Sep 19, 2018 at 11:01
  • Thanks for letting me know Burgi, I didn't knew that. I changed it and now it's unaccepted. Will eventually mark as accepted tomorrow :)
    – Learner
    Sep 19, 2018 at 11:27

1 Answer 1


Your supposition is right : tracert was introduced in the DOS operating system, dating from 1981 and in heavy use until 1995, when Windows applications took over.

DOS used the 8.3 filename, so "traceroute.exe" was just too long for an executable file-name. The same also happened to other Linux/UNIX utilities.

I searched the question a bit more because of conflicting claims. The historical fact is that Windows 3.1 didn't support TCP/IP, unless third-party products were used. One had to use Windows for Workgroups 3.11, dating from 1993.

Quote from Wikipedia Windows 3.11 :

A Winsock package was required to support TCP/IP networking in Windows 3.x. Usually third-party packages were used, but in August 1994, Microsoft released an add-on package (codenamed Wolverine) that provided TCP/IP support in Windows for Workgroups 3.11. Wolverine was a 32-bit stack (accessible from 16-bit Windows applications via WinSock Thunk), which gave it superior performance to most of the third-party TCP/IP Windows stacks available.

One should be reminded that Windows 3.1x was only a graphical layer on top of MS-DOS 6.22, so of course filenames were still in 8.3.

One can further read about the gory details of using TCP/IP in Windows 3.1x in the article Getting Your Cable Modem/DSL Working With Windows for Workgroups Using Microsoft's TCP/IP Stack, article that I believe dates from 1998. The article contains this text :

TRACERT.EXE (Trace Route) is another valuable diagnostic program. Works like ping, except that it actually shows the path to the site.

  • Perfect, have an upvote! :)
    – Burgi
    Sep 19, 2018 at 13:24
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    Win 95 added support for long file names via VFAT. In most Windows apps you'd see the long file name, but if you checked them in DOS, they would look something like SOMEFI~1.TXT - see here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Hefewe1zen
    Sep 19, 2018 at 19:14

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