Introducing the Zing zero-packet network utility

Author(s): William F. Gilreath

Zing is a lightweight, zero-packet network utility similar to ping that provides ping functionality without the payload.

The ping networking utility (backronym Packet InterNet Groper) [1, 2, 3] is a common tool used to determine network delay and whether a host is active at an IP address [4]. Ping sends an Internet Control Message Packet (ICMP) [5] to a host as an echo request, which then receives a response from the remote host. Ping sends data about the time and the host sends the data back – to put it at its simplest, plainest explanation.

Ping is popular with admins around the world, however, the ping utility is not without problems. For instance, ping can be used to send a packet storm to overload and crash a host system – a denial-of-service (DOS) attack called a ping flood. Some sites simply do not respond to ping requests, and some firewalls block the ICMP packets sent by the ping utility.

A problem I faced was the need for ping functionality, but without sending packets of data through the network. One of the best things about being a software development engineer is that, for interesting problems, it only takes a little creativity to find a solution. Driven by the need, I created my own network utility.


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