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Manual Reference Pages  -  PFTOP (8)


pftop - display pf states


Interactive Mode
State Filtering
See Also


pftop [-abDhir] [-c cache] [-d count] [-f filter] [-o field] [-s time] [-v view] [-w width] [number]


pftop displays the active packetfilter states and rules, and periodically updates this information. If standard output is an intelligent terminal (see below) then as many states as will fit on the terminal screen are displayed by default. Otherwise, a good number of them are shown (around 20). If number is given, then the top number states will be displayed instead of the default. The displayed states are filtered according to the filter specification.

The options are as follows:
-a List all states. This option is only valid in batch mode.
-b Use batch mode. In this mode, all input from the terminal is ignored. Interrupt characters (such as ^C’ and ^\’) still have an effect. This is the default on a dumb terminal, or when the output is not a terminal.
-c cache
  Store cache number of states for rate calculation.
-d count
  Update the display count times, then exit. For dumb terminals, the default is 1.
-D This option is intended for debugging the filter. The filter code and resulting states are displayed in raw form. The binary state data is also dumped to a file named state.dmp in the current directory.
-f filter
  This option specifies the filter that is applied to the states. The filter specification is based on the tcpdump format. See the section on STATE FILTERING for details on the filter syntax.
-i Use interactive mode. In this mode, any input is immediately read for processing. See the section on INTERACTIVE MODE for an explanation of which keys perform what functions. After the command is processed, the screen will be updated immediately. This mode is the default when standard output is an intelligent terminal.
-o field
  Sort the process display area using the specified field as the primary key. Accepted field arguments are: age, bytes, dest, dport, exp, none, peak, pkt, rate, size, sport, and src.
-r Reverse the sort order.
-s time
  Set the delay between display updates to time seconds. The default delay is 5 seconds.
-v view
  Select the initial arrangement of the columns. Available views are: default, long, state, time, size, rules, label, and speed. The rule and label views display rules, while the other views display states.
-w width
  Set the width of the display for batch mode. The default width is 80.


When pftop is running in interactive mode, it reads commands from the terminal and acts upon them accordingly. In this mode, the terminal is put in CBREAK, so that a character will be processed as soon as it is typed. The command will be processed and the display will be updated immediately thereafter (reflecting any changes that the command may have triggered). If a key is pressed while pftop is in the middle of updating the display, it will finish the update and then process the command. These commands are currently recognized:
c Enable disable state caching (enabled by default).
f Set the state filter expression.
h,? Display a summary of the commands (help screen).
n Set number of lines to display.
o Select next sorting Order.
p Pause/resume display updates.
q Quit pftop.
r Reverse current sorting order.
s Set display update interval in Seconds.
v Select next View.
0-7 Select one of the views directly.
  Scroll display (up/down), and switch views (left/right). Most of the emacs/mg motion keys work as well.
SPACE Update display immediately.
  Refresh display.
  Clear command entry line.

The following keys are shortcuts for sorting the display:
A Sort states by Age.
B Sort states by number of Bytes.
D Sort by Destination port.
E Sort states by Expiry time.
F Sort by source address (From).
K Sort by peaK speed when caching is enabled.
N No ordering.
P Sort states by the number of Packets.
R Sort by instantaneous speed (Rate) when caching is enabled.
S Sort by Source port.
T Sort by destination address (To).


The expression filter selects which states will be displayed. It is based on the tcpdump filtering language. The following is based on the tcpdump manual page, modified for state filtering.

The filter expression consists of one or more primitives. Primitives usually consist of an id (name or number) preceded by one or more qualifiers. There are three different kinds of qualifiers:
type Specify which kind of address component the id name or number refers to. Possible types are host, net and port. If there is no type qualifier, host is assumed.
dir Specify a the address component (src, dest, gateway) that id applies. Possible directions are src, dst, gw, src or dst, src and dst. If there is no dir qualifier, src or dst or gw is assumed.
proto Restrict the match to a particular protocol. Possible protocols are: ah, carp, esp, icmp, ip, ip6, pfsync, tcp, and udp. If there is no protocol qualifier, all protocols consistent with the type are assumed.

In addition to the above, there are some special primitive keywords that don’t follow the pattern and arithmetic expressions. All of these are described below.

More complex filter expressions are built up by using the words and, or, and not to combine primitives.

Allowable primitives are:
dst host host
  True if the IP destination field of the state is host, which may be either an address or a name.
gw host host True if the IP gateway field of the state is host.
src host host
  True if the IP source field of the state is host.
host host True if either the IP source or destination or gateway of the state is host. If host is a name with multiple IP addresses, each address will be checked for a match.
dst net net True if the IP destination address of the state has a network number of net. net may be either a name from /etc/networks or a network number (see networks(5) for details).
gw net net True if the IP gateway address of the state has a network number of net.
src net net True if the IP source address of the state has a network number of net.
net net True if either the IP source, destination or gateway address of the state has a network number of net.

Any of the above host or net expressions can be prepended with the keywords, ip, or ip6.

dst port port
  True if the packet is IP/TCP or IP/UDP and has a destination port value of port. The port can be a number or name from services(5) (see tcp(4) and udp(4)). If a name is used, both the port number and protocol are checked. If a number or ambiguous name is used, only the port number is checked;
port port True if either the source, destination or gateway port of the state is port.

Any of the above port expressions can be prepended with the keywords tcp or udp, as in:

which matches only TCP states whose source port is port.

inbound, in
  True if the state has an inbound direction.
outbound, out
  True if the state has an outbound direction.
proto proto True if the IP protocol type of the state is proto. proto can be a number or name from protocols(5), such as icmp, udp, or tcp.
rnr num True if the state was generated with the rule number in the main ruleset.
ah, carp esp, icmp, pfsync, tcp, udp
  Abbreviations for: proto p where p is one of the above protocols.
expr relop expr
  True if the relation holds, where relop is one of >’, <’, >=’, <=’, =’, !=’, and expr is an arithmetic expression composed of integer constants (expressed in standard C syntax), the normal binary operators (‘+’, -’, *’, /’, &’, |’), a length operator, and special state data accessors.

The following expressions can be used to access numerical fields inside a state: inp, and outp return input and output packet counts. inb, and outb is for input and output bytes transferred through the state. age is the seconds since the state is created, and exp is the number of seconds left before the state expires.

Primitives may be combined using a parenthesized group of primitives and operators. Allowable primitives and operators are:






Concatenation ( "&&" or "and" )

Alternation ( "||" or "or" )

Negation has highest precedence. Alternation and concatenation have equal precedence and associate left to right.

Expression arguments must be passed to pftop as a single argument. Since the expression usually contains shell metacharacters, it should be placed in quotes.


pf(4), pfctl(8), tcpdump(8)


Can Erkin Acar
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