The MTR command – A Linux network diagnostic tool

In the world of network administration, especially within Linux environments, having the right tools to diagnose and resolve network issues is essential. One such powerful tool that combines the capabilities of both traceroute and ping is the MTR command. MTR stands for “My Traceroute,” and it is instrumental in providing real-time data about network connections. In this blog post, we’ll explore what MTR is, how it works, and how you can use it to troubleshoot network problems.

What is the MTR command?

MTR is a network diagnostic tool that merges the functionality of the ‘traceroute’ and ‘ping’ programs into one integrated tool. By continuously sending packets to a specified destination, MTR collects real-time data about each hop along the route to that destination. This approach allows network administrators to monitor the network and identify issues more efficiently.

How Does MTR command Work?

When you run an MTR command, it initiates a series of ICMP Echo Requests to determine the path to a target server and measure the response time of each hop along this path. Here’s a closer look at its operation:

  1. Route Tracking: MTR discovers the internet path from the host computer to the target destination by sending packets with incrementally higher TTL (Time To Live) values. Each router along the path reduces the TTL of the packet by one, and when TTL reaches zero, the packet is discarded, and a “time exceeded” message is sent back to the sender.
  2. Network Testing: After determining the route, MTR sends a sequence of ping requests to each hop to test the connectivity and quality of the link. This provides metrics such as packet loss percentage, average round-trip time, and the best and worst travel times.
  3. Real-time Results: Unlike traditional traceroute, which performs a single sweep of the route, MTR continuously updates the statistics and provides a dynamic view of the network performance between the host and the destination.

Installing MTR

MTR is available on most Linux distributions and can be installed through the package manager. For example, on Ubuntu or Debian systems, you can install it using the following command:

codesudo apt-get install mtr

For Red Hat or CentOS systems, use:

codesudo yum install mtr

Using MTR

To use MTR, simply type mtr followed by the destination you want to analyze. For example:


This command will start displaying a real-time report that updates every second, showing the route to and statistics for each hop.

Interpreting MTR Output

The MTR output typically includes several columns such as:

  • Host: The IP address or hostname of the router.
  • Loss%: The percentage of lost packets.
  • Snt: The number of sent packets.
  • Last/Avg/Best/Wrst: The last, average, best, and worst latency times, respectively.

This data helps diagnose various network issues, such as routing problems, packet loss, and latency bottlenecks.

When to Use MTR command

MTR is particularly useful in scenarios where network connectivity issues are intermittent or difficult to pinpoint with other tools. It helps in:

  • Troubleshooting slow network connections
  • Identifying packet loss locations
  • Monitoring network stability and performance over time


The MTR command is an indispensable tool for network diagnostics, offering deep insights that are crucial for maintaining a healthy network. Its ability to continuously monitor the path and performance to a target allows for effective troubleshooting and detailed network analysis. Whether you’re a seasoned network administrator or just starting out, incorporating MTR into your toolkit can help you keep your network running smoothly and efficiently.

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