Here is a screenshot of xtraceroute in action, showing the rough path taken between my packets in Hamilton, NewZealand to the BBC's website, via Australia and then the USA.


xtraceroute - graphical (X11) traceroute


xtraceroute [options? [hostname?


This manual page briefly documents the xtraceroute , command. This manual page was originally written for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution because the original program does not have a manual page. Since then the author has gotten his act together and keeps it up to date.

xtraceroute is a graphical version of the traceroute program, which traces the route your IP packets travel to their destination.

On the display:

  • Green dots have good location information that came from LOC fields in the DNS, which is the best data out there.
  • Orange ones has been guessed from the sites' suffix.
  • Yellow ones got resolved via a database of city names and "known" routers. That data is old and inaccurate and it's not getting any younger.
  • Red ones are completely unknown.
  • You can select dots by clicking on them both on the globe and in the list.
  • Pressing and holding the left mouse button and moving the mouse will rotate the globe. Using the middle mouse button will move it, and the right mouse button will zoom it (only vertical movement counts). You can generally get the view you want this way.


hostname is the name (or IP address) of the host you are interested in.


The program follow the usual GNU command line syntax, with long options starting with two dashes (`-').

- version
Show version number
-h, - help
Display a brief help text.
-T, - texture texture-name
Use a custom texture (map). It can be any kind of file that gdk_pixbuf can load (which is most reasonable formats). There are a few really good textures on (Meant for use with Xglobe, but they'll work fine here as well.)
-N, - ntexture texture-name
Use a custom texture (map) for the part of the earth that's not lit by the sun.
- night, - no-night
Do/Don't use the night texture where appropriate. The default is to do an all-day earth.
- LOD number
Set the level-of-detail for the sphere. (The default is 3, 0-4 are realistic values.)
- stdin, -
Makes the program read data from stdin instead of calling traceroute(8) (Mainly useful for debugging)


xtraceroute tries hard to guess the location of machines, but it is just software, it doesn't know everything, and it makes mistakes.

The yellow dots has been guessed by looking at the top level domain (TLD) of the hostname. This works fairly well for most countries, but there's a few exceptions where some small countries (like Niue (.nu) and Tuvalu (.tv)) will let anyone register domains in their space for a fee. I don't care, If it says .nu and it hasn't got a LOC record, it'll get plotted in Niue. Also, very few US sites actually use the .us TLD.

If it finds a very high-latency link, it will assume it it a satellite hop and plot it accordingly. If you have some other kind of slow link, like PPP over something slow or a really busy router, it might show up as a satellite hop as well.


Default texture for the earth.
Default night-time texture for the earth.
This is a script that xtraceroute uses to get data on sites in a nice asynchronous way. It's not very interesting by itself.
System-wide hosts file (optional)
System-wide networks file (optional)

The two files above are filled in by hand, following the model of /usr/lib/xtraceroute *.cache files.

Your personal hosts file
Your personal networks file
Your personal base of regular expressions

These three personal files are typically filled in via the Database menu.

LOC data

The Correct Way to tell the geographical location of a host on the internet is to ask the DNS. The way to do that is described in RFC1876, which defines the LOC (for location) RR. It's not exactly widely used, but you see it every now and then. Hopefully this program can help change that.

How to get LOC data for your site into the DNS:

Ask your local sysadmin that maintain your nameserver to read the RFC. It's a fairly easy read as RFCs go, but it might help if you find out the location of your site in advance using, say, a GPS or a site like Sysadmins are busy people.

When xtraceroute tries to resolve a hostname it will try the proper name first, and then higher domains. For example if our hostname is "", it will try that, "" and "". (But not just "com")

This means that if you're a big site and it's hard to persuade the admins to add individual LOC entries for all machines, you can try getting them to add one or two for the whole domain.



More information on xtraceroute is in /usr/share/doc/xt.


This manual page was written by Stephane Bortzmeyer <>, for the Debian GNU/Linux system (but may be used by others), and then later modified by Ola Lundqvist <>. Xtraceroute was written by Björn Augustsson <>.


Please send bug reports to Björn Augustsson <>.

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