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Tshark output incomplete in real time

asked 2018-04-18 07:42:19 +0000

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I ran following Commands :-

1) cat demo.cap | tshark -Tek -r - >> > outputs 8742 packets.

But when i try to tail the file....

2) tail -f -c +0 demo.cap | tshark -Tek -r - >> outputs 8672 packets.

3) tail -f -c +0 demo.cap | tshark -Tek -l -r - >> outputs 8672 packets.

On wireshark UI i get 8742 packets.

Interestingly if I use a capture of libcap format then and use -i instead of -r,

4) tail -f -c +0 demo.cap | tshark -Tek -i - > >> outputs 8742 packets.

it's apparent that, all packets are not seen, I realized Tshark might be buffering its output, but -l is not helping either. can anyone explain where else to look?

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once I append 4kb Garbage at the end of the file, I am able to get all the packets, with an error message as well, which i can conveniently ignore.. but it seems to me when I use -r option, tshark uses input buffer of around 4kb before reading packets...?? can anyone please confirm

himanshu97 gravatar imagehimanshu97 ( 2018-04-18 11:04:01 +0000 )edit

Tshark version, and OS you're running on?

grahamb gravatar imagegrahamb ( 2018-04-18 12:06:55 +0000 )edit

tshark 2.4.3 and 2.2.6 on centos 7

himanshu97 gravatar imagehimanshu97 ( 2018-04-18 14:07:31 +0000 )edit

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answered 2018-04-22 14:56:50 +0000

Jim Young gravatar image

Using "tshark -r -" as in:

$ tail -f -c +0 demo.pcap | tshark -r -

Results in two concurrent processes:

$ ps -eaf


501 20361 4116 0 10:03AM ttys000 0:00.56 tail -f -c +0 demo.pcap

501 20362 4116 0 10:03AM ttys000 0:00.44 /Applications/ -r -


Using "tshark -i -" as in:

$ tail -f -c +0 demo.pcap | tshark -i -

Results in three concurrent processes:

$ ps -eaf


501 20406 4116 0 10:09AM ttys000 0:00.57 tail -f -c +0 demo.pcap

501 20407 4116 0 10:09AM ttys000 0:00.45 /Applications/ -i -

501 20423 20407 0 10:09AM ttys000 0:00.09 /Applications/ -n -i - -Z none


In your examples 2, 3 and 4 you start your pipeline with the command: "tail -f -c +0 demo.cap". As you are aware the tail command with the -f option does not simply exit when it sees EOF; instead it stays open testing to see if any new data is appended to the demo.cap.

In your "... | tshark -Tek -r -" and "... | tshark -Tek -l -r -" cases you are telling tshark to read from a file but the use of the "-" indicates that the file should be the STDIN file handle. In the "... | tshark -Tek -i - " case you are telling tshark to read from a device but the use of the "-" indicates the use of STDIN as a pipe. The tshark -i - case will cause tshark to spawn a dumpcap process to read data from the pipe and pass the data up to tshark similar to the way a live capture data is read.

When using the "tshark -r -" and "tshark -l -r -" options it appears that the last buffer's worth of data may not be reliably accessible to tshark when the pipeline is signaled to terminate.

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yup Figured out same , last buffer it around 4kb.

himanshu97 gravatar imagehimanshu97 ( 2018-05-07 09:40:33 +0000 )edit

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Asked: 2018-04-18 07:42:19 +0000

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Last updated: Apr 22 '18