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Admin Firewall Linux

Linux: how to estimate bandwidth usage to a particular subnet

Intro

Let’s say someone asks you to estimate the total bandwith used by a particular subnet, or a particular service such as https on port 443. I provide a crude way to do that using tcpdump on a not-too-busy server.

The code

I call it bandwidth.sh. By the way, I ran it on a Checkpoint Gaia appliance so it works there as well.

                    

#!/bin/bash
# DrJ 11/21
sleep=120
file=/tmp/ctpackets
sum() {
sum=0
cat $file|while read line; do
 length=$(echo $line|awk '{print $17}'|sed 's/)//')
 sum=$(expr $sum + $length)
 echo $sum
done
}
while /bin/true; do
tcpdump -c1000 -v -nni eth1 net 216.71/16 > $file
#10:29:49.471455 IP (tos 0x0, ttl 126, id 32399, offset 0, flags [none], proto: UDP (17), length: 105) 10.32.25.126.3391 > 216.71.170.32.61445: UDP, length 77
total=$(sum|tail -1)
t0=$(head -1 $file|awk '{print $1}')
t1=$(tail -1 $file|awk '{print $1}')
h0=$(echo $t0|cut -d: -f1|sed 's/^0//')
h1=$(echo $t1|cut -d: -f1|sed 's/^0//')
m0=$(echo $t0|cut -d: -f2|sed 's/^0//')
m1=$(echo $t1|cut -d: -f2|sed 's/^0//')
s0=$(echo $t0|cut -d: -f3|sed 's/^0//')
s1=$(echo $t1|cut -d: -f3|sed 's/^0//')
s0=$(echo $s0|cut -d\. -f1|sed 's/^0//')
s1=$(echo $s1|cut -d\. -f1|sed 's/^0//')
[ -z "$h0" ] && h0=0
[ -z "$h1" ] && h1=0
[ -z "$m0" ] && m0=0
[ -z "$m1" ] && m1=0
[ -z "$s0" ] && s0=0
[ -z "$s1" ] && s1=0
t0secs=$((3600*$h0+60*$m0+$s0))
t1secs=$((3600*$h1+60*$m1+$s1))
#echo total bytes: $total
elapsed=$(($t1secs-$t0secs))
#echo elapsed time: $elapsed
kbps=$(($total*8/$elapsed/1000))
echo $kbps kbps at $(date)
sleep $sleep
done

The idea

Running tcpdump with the -v switch gives us packet length. We find that length and sum it up. Here we used a filter epxression of 216.71/16 to capture only the traffic from that subnet.

The number of packets to capture has to be tuned to how busy it gets. Now it’s set to only capture 1000 packets. And you see my crude timings are truncated at the second. So 1000 packets in one second or about 1.5 MBytes/sec = 12 Mbps is the maximum sensitivy of this approach. I doub it will really work for interfaces with more thn 100 Mbps, even after you scaled up the count (and don’t forget to change the denominator in the kbps line!

Here’s a sample output:

1000 packets captured
2002 packets received by filter
0 packets dropped by kernel
5 kbps at Wed Nov 3 12:09:45 EDT 2021

I think it’s important to note the number of packets dropped by the kernel. So if it gets too busy as I underatdn it, it will at least try to tell yuo that it couldn’t capture all the data and at that point you can no longer trust this method. Perhaps with enhanced statistical methods it could be salvaged.

I don’t run it continuously to also give the kernel a breather. It probably doesn’t make much difference, but every two minutes seems plenty frequent to me…

Conclusion

We have demonstrated a crude but better-than-nothing script to calculate bandwidth for a given tcpdump filter expression. It won’t win any awards, but it contains some worthwhile ideas. And it seems to work at low bandwidth levels.

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