IP Tables State (iptstate)

Please see the LICENSE file for license information.


IP Tables State (iptstate) was originally written to implement the "state top" feature of IP Filter (see "The Idea" below) in IP Tables. "State top" displays the states held by your stateful firewall in a top-like manner.

Since IP Tables doesn't have a built in way to easily display this information even once, an option was added to just have it display the state table once.

Features include: Top-like realtime state table information Sorting by any field Reversible sorting Single display of state table Customizable refresh rate Display filtering Color-coding Open Source (specifically I'm using the zlib license) * much more...


Make sure you have some version of curses installed (for most users this is probably ncurses). Note that if you are using vendor packages you will most likely need the packaged with '-dev' on the end of of it (i.e. ncurses-dev).

Starting with version 2.2.0 you also need libnetfilter_conntrack version 0.0.50 or later. These libraries also require nf_conntrack_netlink and nfnetlink support in your kernel.


The quick version:

For most people the following should do all you need:

make install # this must be done as root

The long version:


The program is only one c++ source file, so the compile is very simple. For this reason there is no config file. The defaults in the Makefile should be fine, but if you want to change something you can change where iptstate gets installed by changing the "SBIN" variable in your environment. I can't imagine a reason but if you have 'install' installed in a weird place change the INSTALL variable in your environment. Other than that nothing should need tweaking. Obviously advanced users may wish to do other stuff, but we'll leave that as an excersize to the reader.


The compiling should be as simple as running 'make.' If this doesn't work, feel free to drop me an email, BUT MAKE SURE you put "IPTSTATE:" in the subject. In the email include: Distribution, kernel version, make version, gcc version, libc version, and the error messages.

Package maintainers may wish to override CXXFLAGS, and can do so like so:

# CXXFLAGS=-O3 make

and/or use "make strip" which will build iptstate and then strip it.

If you get errors like: passing `in_addr *' as argument
1 of `gethostbyaddr(const char *, size_t, int)'

then you need to upgrade your glibc. This is an important thing to keep up-to-date anyway.


IPTState installs in /usr/sbin. This is because it should be a utility for the superuser. You need root access (or CAP_NET_ADMIN) for iptstate to get the data it needs anyway. Installing should be as simple as 'make install' as root. If this fails, feel free to do:

# cp iptstate /usr/sbin/iptstate
# chmod 755 /usr/sbin/iptstate
# chown root:bin /usr/sbin/iptstate
# cp iptstate.8 /usr/share/man/man8/iptstate.8
# chmod 444 /usr/share/man/man1/iptstate.8

And that should do it. If 'make install' fails feel free to drop me an email provided you put "IPTSTATE:" in the subject. Please see the BUGS file on how to send proper bug reports.


IPTables State is extremely simple to use. Most of the time what you'll want is just the command 'iptstate' as root. This will launch you into the 'statetop' mode. In here, your state table is being sorted by Source IP. To change the sorting, on the fly, type 'b.' This will rotate through the various sorting possibilities. You can quit by typing 'q.' You can also change the sorting with the -b ("sort BY") option. The -b option takes d (Destination IP), D (Destination Port), S (Source IP), p (protocol), s (state), and t (TTL) as it's possible options. To sort by Source IP, just don't specify -b.

You can also change the refresh rate of the statetop by -R followed by an integer. The integer represents the refresh rate in seconds.

To get help, hit 'h' from withint iptstate, or run iptstate with the '--help' option.

To get a quick look at what's going across your firewall, try iptstate -1. This is "single run" mode. It will just print out your state table at the moment you requested it. This is where -b comes in handy. Again, the default sort is by Source IP.

NOTE WELL: This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. There are many other features - check the man page, the -h option, and the interactive help page within iptstate for more information. But this should give you the basics.


There is a list of features I plan and don't plan to implement in the WISHLIST file.


The idea of statetop comes from IP Filter by Darren Reed.

This package's main purpose is to provide a state-top type interface for IP Tables. I've added in the "single run" option since there's no nice way to do that with IP Tables either.


IPTState was written by me, Phil Dibowitz. My day job is large-scale system administration and automation. Outside of work I maintain several open source projects. You can find out more about me at

Phil Dibowitz phil AT ipom DOT com