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How to configure a packet trace to run for several days without consuming large amounts of disk space

This document (7011281) is provided subject to the disclaimer at the end of this document.


All Linux-based network applications
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
Network trace
Packet capture
Buffer:  Circular, ring, rotating


If the frequency of a problem is intermittent and/or random, it may be necessary to leave a packet trace running for several hours or even days in order to capture the events leading up to the failure.  How is it possible to do this without consuming large amounts of disk space?


Use a command line similar to the following which will capture ten files of 100Mb each (1Gb in total) to /tmp/trace.cap0 ... trace.cap9 and then start overwriting at trace.cap0 again.
tcpdump -i eth0 -s0 -w /tmp/trace.cap -C 100 -W 10
-i  Interface to listen on
-s0 Capture maximum possible packet size
-w  Trace file location
-C  Maximum capture file size in Mbytes
-W  Maximum number of capture files

Check that there is sufficient disk space available and adjust the -C and -W parameters accordingly to ensure that a sufficient amount of traffic is captured prior to a failure.

For further information refer to man tcpdump.

Additional Information


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  • Document ID:7011281
  • Creation Date: 30-Oct-2012
  • Modified Date:03-Mar-2020
    • SUSE End of Life

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