Is net-tools obsolete?

Answered by Cody Janus

In my personal experience with Linux systems, I have come across the net-tools package quite often. It has been a commonly used set of commands for network configuration and troubleshooting. However, I have also noticed that there has been a shift away from using net-tools in recent years.

The net-tools package, which includes commands like arp, ifconfig, iptunnel, iwconfig, nameif, netstat, and route, has been considered deprecated since 2011. This means that it is no longer actively maintained or updated by its developers. Instead, newer and more modern alternatives have emerged.

One of the main reasons for the deprecation of net-tools is the fact that it relies on the older ioctl interface, which is not as flexible or extensible as the newer netlink interface. The netlink interface provides a more powerful and standardized way of interacting with the networking subsystem of the Linux kernel.

As a result, many Linux distributions have started to phase out the use of net-tools in favor of other tools that make use of the netlink interface. For example, the ip command from the iproute2 package has become the preferred command for network configuration and information retrieval. It provides more functionality and is better integrated with the modern Linux networking stack.

I have personally encountered situations where using net-tools commands like ifconfig or netstat would not provide the desired information or would not work at all on certain Linux distributions. This led me to explore alternative tools, such as ip and ss, which are part of the iproute2 package. These newer tools proved to be more reliable and provided a more comprehensive set of features.

Furthermore, the deprecation of net-tools has also been driven by the desire to standardize network management across different Unix-like operating systems. By using the netlink interface and tools like iproute2, it becomes easier to have a consistent network management experience across different Linux distributions.

Net-tools can be considered obsolete in the context of modern Linux networking. While it may still be available on some systems and may work in certain situations, it is no longer actively maintained and has been replaced by more modern and powerful alternatives like iproute2. As a Linux user, it is advisable to familiarize oneself with these newer tools to ensure effective network configuration and troubleshooting.