I am using netcat on some Linux machines (see this other question), but seeing some unexpected behavior.

Unlike the guide in the accepted answer, I am not using UDP tunneling to do DNS queries. I have a remote server that I can log into, but not install software on, and I'm trying to tunnel UDP traffic from my computer to the server, and then setup a separate tunnel to send UDP responses back from the server to my machine.

The tunnel going from my machine to the server is working perfectly, however on the server side, the instance of netcat that is listening for the response from the UDP server will close the listener after receiving the first response. So I can send a request and get 1 response back, but any subsequent requests make it to the server okay but responses are not received. Using netstat I can see that before the response is received netcat is listening, but the port is then closed after the response is received.

The netcat instance on my machine seems to handle everything just fine. Both machines are running netcat v1.10-38. Any ideas what is going on?

2 Answers 2


So there are multiple things called netcat; ubuntu even has /etc/alternatives symbolic-link-hackery for it.

I think part of your problem is that UDP doesn't do sessions; I've copied in part of the file /usr/share/doc/netcat-traditional/README.gz below which does a pretty good job of explaining.

UDP connections are opened instead of TCP when -u is specified. These aren't really "connections" per se since UDP is a connectionless protocol, although netcat does internally use the "connected UDP socket" mechanism that most kernels support. Although netcat claims that an outgoing UDP connection is "open" immediately, no data is sent until something is read from standard input. Only thereafter is it possible to determine whether there really is a UDP server on the other end, and often you just can't tell. Most UDP protocols use timeouts and retries to do their thing and in many cases won't bother answering at all, so you should specify a timeout and hope for the best. You will get more out of UDP connections if standard input is fed from a source of data that looks like various kinds of server requests.

OK so maybe that's not all that great of an explanation but it's what I could find.

If you haven't yet, you might want to experiment with any netcat options you can find that would have to do with waiting... have you experimented with:

  • using -l as well as -u to ensure you're in "listening" mode

  • -vv to see exactly what's happening

  • -q -1 ...which should "wait forever" even after receiving EOF (hopefully, listening again?)

  • 5
    so this is an accepted answer now, but we don’t know which of the tips proved useful :( Dec 14, 2012 at 14:09

You can use socat for that. It has very nice option fork:

fork After establishing a connection, handles its channel in a child process and keeps the parent process attempting to produce more connections, either by listening or by connecting in a loop (example).

Client (yes this you run from the client):

$ ssh -L 7753:localhost:7753 YourServer.com "/usr/bin/socat tcp4-listen:7753,reuseaddr,fork UDP:"


$ sudo socat udp4-listen:53,reuseaddr,fork tcp:localhost:7753
$ dig @ google.com

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