Netcat, nc command

September 21, 2009
Netcat - also known as nc is considered the Swiss army knife of system administrators. In its most basic usage, netcat acts as a simple utility which reads and writes data across network connections, using TCP or UDP transport protocols. But this simple tool finds diverse uses for system administrators (Unix & Linux alike). Hence the name Swiss army knife.

Here is a tiny list of the things Netcat can accomplish -
  • Simultaneously act as a server at one end and a client at the other to seamlessly transfer files between remote machines.
  • Scan for open ports on the host machine or on a remote machine.
  • Setting up a chat server
  • Act as a web proxy
... just to name a few.

You will be amused to know that a few people have even broadcast the World Cup Soccer live in Ascii characters, which you can view using netcat command.

If you are looking for more uses of netcat, then you should check out the examples listed on the netcat Wikipedia page.

Netcat is available for Unix, Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows platform.