HOWTO: Use Wireshark over SSH (Linux and Windows)

You want to use tcpdump in combination with Wireshark but on the server there is no X environment or no Wireshark installed?
No problem. Run Wireshark on your desktop (Linux or Windows) and capture on the remote server.


ssh remote-host "tcpdump -s0 -w - 'port 8080'" | wireshark -k -i -

This will run tcpdump on host “remote-host” and capture full packages (-s0) on port 8080. The output is sent over SSH to the local host’s “stdout” where Wireshark is waiting on “stdin” for input. (-k means start immediately).

There are a few things that may make the line above not work in your case. Make sure tcpdump is on the path on your remote host or change the line to include the path a la:

ssh remote-host "/usr/sbin/tcpdump -s0 -w - 'port 8080'" | wireshark -k -i -

You may also need to run tcpdump with sudo which means you need to change the command to:

ssh remote-host "sudo /usr/sbin/tcpdump -s0 -w - 'port 8080'" | wireshark -k -i -

Please note! Such a remote capture session can be pretty heavy on the network depending on the application. Make sure you filter as much as possible on the remote side using tcpdump’s filters.


On Windows plink.exe works best for me. Get it from the putty website.

plink -ssh username@remote-host "tcpdump -s 0 -w - 'port 8080'" | wireshark -i -

On Windows I have to omit the Wireshark option -k (immediately start capture) and manually start it from the Wireshark UI once SSH keyboard authentication is done. Alternatively, one can provide the password to plink using the -pw option.

Again, it may be that you have to provide the full path to tcpdump and/or wireshark. It also may be that you have to run tcpdump with sudo.