Inspecting Raw HTTP Headers on Linux with ngrep

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Posted on July 01, 2013 7:51 PM in Web Development
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Without getting into too many gory details, I was trying to investigate some HTTP traffic today in order to look at the raw HTTP headers being sent in by clients. Since the web server I was investigating was running on Ubuntu, I searched for the best way to do so. That led me to a forum thread on tcpdump, which sounded painful since I've worked with that before, but I clicked the link anyway being the glutton for punishment that I am. Luckily for me, a comment down toward the bottom of the thread mentioned ngrep.

If you're the kind of puzzle-solver who can figure out that the "n" stands for network, and you've ever used the powerful tool that is grep, then you're probably already putting 2 and 2 together and realizing that ngrep has some serious potential. One look at the ngrep usage page and I was sold:

ngrep -W byline port 80

After installing ngrep with sudo apt-get install ngrep, I was able to run it on the Ubuntu server and immediately see raw HTTP headers associated with all of the various client requests over that period of time.

In short, ngrep is awesome.

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