I need a Linux command to list all free open ports for use in an application

lsof -i TCP| fgrep LISTEN

Does not seen to be helping as the Ports it lists are not necessarily free for use. How do I list free open ports not in use?


9 Answers 9

netstat -lntu

as replied by @askmish will give you list of services running on your system on tcp and udp ports where

  • -l = only services which are listening on some port
  • -n = show port number, don't try to resolve the service name
  • -t = tcp ports
  • -u = udp ports
  • -p = name of the program

You don't need the 'p' parameter as you're only interested in getting which ports are free and not which program is running on it.

This only shows which ports on your system are used up, though. This doesn't tell you the status of your network e.g. if you're behind NAT and you want some services to be accessible from outside. Or if the firewall is blocking the port for outside visitors. In that case, nmap comes to the rescue. WARNING: Use nmap only on networks which are under your control. Also, there are firewall rules which can block nmap pings, you'll have to fiddle around with options to get correct results.

  • 38
    Note that netstat is deprecated on many systems and ss should be used instead.
    – Johu
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 21:44
  • 2
    but if you're on busybox ss isn't included
    – jcollum
    Commented Jun 7, 2019 at 15:52
  • 4
    The big advantage of netstat is that it works almost everywhere. On Windows, parameters are a bit different, but it's there, and my Amiga with AmiTCP has it as well, so Linux is the odd one out here. Fortunately, net-tools still exists. Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 22:02

Since net-tools is deprecated, you can use the ss command instead of netstat if netstat is not present on your machine:

ss -lntu

should work similarly to

netstat -lntu

according to the built-in help:

-n, --numeric       don't resolve service names
-l, --listening     display listening sockets
-t, --tcp           display only TCP sockets
-u, --udp           display only UDP sockets
-p, --processes     show process using socket

If you wish to see the processes using each port, and they belong to different users, you need to run

sudo ss -lntup

This command will list open network ports and the processes that own them:

netstat -lnptu

you can thereafter filter the results to your exact specs.

You could also use nmap for more granular results about ports.

  • 5
    The -p flag requires root privileges for some processes, so it would be sudo netstat -lnptu
    – klaus se
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 1:17

All opened ports including response traffic:

netstat -tuwanp 2>/dev/null | awk '{print $4}' | sort | uniq -c | wc -l
  • 5
    A list of just unique port numbers and only IPv4: netstat -tuwanp4 | awk '{print $4}' | grep ':' | cut -d ":" -f 2 | sort | uniq Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 20:13
  • +1 for showing how to filter and extract the numbers from the result. Edited to remove stderr output from netstat (which adds a header to the result in Ubuntu).
    – datashaman
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 6:17
  • Hmm, on second thoughts. -1 for not answering the question.
    – datashaman
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 6:18

My take on the original question was that he was asking about the unused ports, not the ports currently connected to services. If this is the case, there's no specific way to list them, other than to listed the used ports and assume the others are unused.

One additional point to keep in mind: as a user, you'll not be able to open a port less than 1024 (you'll need root permissions for that).


The following command will work on any Unix which outputs in the same format as Ubuntu / Debian - where the local address is in the column 4 and the output includes a 2 line header at the top. If either of those numbers is different, tweak the awk command below.

If you want IPv4 only:

netstat -lnt | awk 'NR>2{print $4}' | grep -E '' | sed 's/.*://' | sort -n | uniq

If you want IPv6 only:

netstat -lnt | awk 'NR>2{print $4}' | grep -E ':::' | sed 's/.*://' | sort -n | uniq

If you want both together:

netstat -lnt | awk 'NR>2{print $4}' | grep -E '(|:::)' | sed 's/.*://' | sort -n | uniq

The command outputs a list of port numbers that are listening on all interfaces. If you want to list all ports that are listening on localhost interface, then use something like this:

netstat -lnt | awk 'NR>2{print $4}' | grep -E '(|::1:)' | sed 's/.*://' | sort -n | uniq


sudo netstat -plnt | grep -E '(|:::||::1:)' |  awk 'NR>2{print $7}' | sort -n  | uniq

and look at this.


A one-liner to list just unique port numbers and only IPv4:

netstat -tuwanp4 | awk '{print $4}' | grep ':' | cut -d ":" -f 2 | sort | uniq

All credits to Aaron C. de Bruyn's comment.

netstat -an | grep "tcp" | grep "LISTEN" | awk '{print $4}' | grep -wo "....$"

lists all open ports that are listening

  • And what exactly makes this different from the previously provided answers? Why should OP use grep to find listening ports, when -l option exists? Commented Mar 29, 2023 at 11:37

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