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DARPA TELNET protocol daemon (UNIX)

Note: You must be root to start this daemon.


telnetd [-4 | -6] [-debug [port]] [-D modifier] [-n]

Runs on:



-4 or -6
The address family to use for -debug mode. During normal operation (called from inetd), telnetd will use the file descriptor passed from inetd.
-D modifier
Print debugging information. You can specify any of the following:
Print information about the negotiation of TELNET options.
Print the same information as for options, plus some additional information about what processing is going on.
Display the data stream received by telnetd.
Display data written to the pty.
-debug [port]
Normally, telnetd is started automatically through inetd; this option lets you start telnetd manually.
Disable the keepalive option.


The telnetd daemon is a server that supports the DARPA-standard TELNET virtual-terminal protocol.

The telnetd daemon is started when inetd receives a service request to connect to the TELNET port (inetd listens for service requests specified in the inetd.conf file at a port defined in the services file).

By specifying the -debug option, you can start up telnetd manually instead of through inetd. If you start telnetd this way, you can use the port argument to run telnetd on an alternate TCP port number.

You can use the -D option for debugging. This option lets telnet print debugging information to the connection, letting you see what telnetd is doing.

The telnetd daemon operates by allocating a pseudo-terminal device for a client, then creating a login process that has the slave side of the pseudo-terminal as standard input, standard output, and standard error. The telnetd daemon manipulates the master side of the pseudo-terminal, implementing the TELNET protocol and passing characters between the remote client and the login process.

Note: If you get a message saying that all network ports are in use, you've either run out of pseudo devices or you haven't started devc-pty. The telnetd daemon looks only at the pseudo-terminal devices named /dev/pty[pqrs][0-f], no matter how many others are created.

When a TELNET session is started up, telnetd sends TELNET options to the client side that indicate a willingness to do remote echoing of characters, to suppress go-ahead, and to do remote flow control, as well as to receive terminal-type information, terminal-speed information, and window-size information from the remote client. If the remote client is willing, the remote terminal type is propagated in the environment of the created login process. The pseudo-terminal allocated to the client is configured to operate in cooked mode, and with XTABS and CRMOD enabled.

The telnetd daemon is willing to do:

It's also willing to have the remote client do:

Name resolving issues

It is not mandatory for telnetd to have access to name-resolving capabilities. If it does have access to these capabilities, telnetd does a reverse name lookup (IP to hostname) of the telnet client.

If you decide to use a nameserver, make sure that the nameserver configuration is correct. If it isn't, there could be a delay of up to 1.5 minutes a login prompt is returned to the client, while the socket library's name resolver attempts to resolve the IP to a hostname.

Typical configuration for running telnetd on an embedded target

As mentioned before, in a host system environment, you run telnetd by just typing inetd in the command line. If you want to run telnetd on an embedded target, you need to copy the following files to your target:

To configure the interface from a shell prompt, either use ifconfig and route or dhcp.client. You can then start inetd.


The telnetd daemon requires the shared library.


This utility is based on copyright software of the WIDE project and of the Regents of the University of California; for the copyright notices, see telnetd in the appendix Third-Party Copyright Notices.


Because of bugs in the original 4.2 BSD telnet, telnetd performs some protocol exchanges to try to discover if the remote client is, in fact, a 4.2 BSD telnet.

Binary mode has no common interpretation except between similar operating systems (UNIX in this case).

The terminal-type name received from the remote client is converted to lowercase.

The telnetd daemon never sends TELNET go-ahead commands.

See also:

/etc/hosts, ifconfig, inetd, inetd.conf, login, /etc/resolv.conf, rlogind, route, rshd, /etc/services, sh, telnet

TCP/IP Networking in the Neutrino User's Guide

Based on RFC 854