When downloading, wget reports speed in "K/s". K...what? kilobits? kilobytes? 1024 or 1000?


wget -O /dev/null http://newark1.linode.com/100MB-newark.bin

produces "348 K/s". Meanwhile:

  • nethogs says "343 KB/sec" for the entire Wi-Fi connection
  • System Monitor says 364 "KiB/s" for the entire Wi-Fi connection
  • Tomato says "3010.44 kbit/s (367.48 KB/s)" for the Wi-Fi connection (which is consistent with decimal kilobits and binary kilobytes).

So we know it's kilobytes, and probably perverse kilobytes, since the number would be bigger for decimal kilobytes.


I would guess K stands for kilobytes.

In the GNU Wget 1.12 Manual, K always stands for kilobytes.

  • 2
    So would that be true kilobytes (1000 bytes), or binary kibibytes (1024 bytes)? Hard disk drive manufacturers seem to be the only ones that use kilo-, mega- and gigabyte units correctly. – paradroid Sep 3 '10 at 17:34
  • Well, yeah, that was my guess, too. I'm looking for reliable information, not guesses. – endolith Sep 3 '10 at 17:48
  • 5
    No way. kilo- and variants have meant "1000" for thousands of years. The sloppy usage of "k" to mean 1024 is an unholy abomination that should be killed with fire. Besides, we're talking about networking here. Amongst network engineers, 1000 is the norm. "Gigabit internet" is actually 1,000,000,000 bits per second, as any sane person would expect, not 1,073,741,824 or whatever godawful number you get from powers of 2. – endolith Sep 3 '10 at 23:19
  • 1
    @harrymc: The bug report here discusses the fact that wget uses kibibytes (KiB) instead of kilobytes (KB) - savannah.gnu.org/bugs/index.php?22765 – paradroid Sep 4 '10 at 16:26
  • 3
    Whose reality? The Linux Programmer's Manual explicitly states that kB = 1000 B. kernel.org/doc/man-pages/online/pages/man7/units.7.html Mac OS X measures in multiples of 1000, too. I'm gonna go with the ubiquitous, standardized meaning that's been in use for the last few centuries, myself. – endolith Sep 4 '10 at 20:22

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