Lab2: Lab04 Instructions
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Wireshark Lab: IP v7.0
Supplement to Computer Networking: A Top-Down
Approach, 7th ed., J.F. Kurose and K.W. Ross
“Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me
and I understand.” Chinese proverb
© 2005-2016, J.F Kurose and K.W. Ross, All Rights Reserved
In this lab, we’ll investigate the IP protocol, focusing on the IP datagram. We’ll do so by
analyzing a trace of IP datagrams sent and received by an execution of the traceroute
program (the traceroute program itself is explored in more detail in the Wireshark
ICMP lab). We’ll investigate the various fields in the IP datagram, and study IP
fragmentation in detail.
Before beginning this lab, you’ll probably want to review sections 1.4.3 in the text1 and
section 3.4 of RFC 2151 [ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc2151.txt] to update yourself
on the operation of the traceroute program. You’ll also want to read Section 4.3 in
the text, and probably also have RFC 791 [ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc791.txt] on
hand as well, for a discussion of the IP protocol.
1. Capturing packets from an execution of traceroute
In order to generate a trace of IP datagrams for this lab, we’ll use the traceroute
program to send datagrams of different sizes towards some destination, X. Recall that
traceroute operates by first sending one or more datagrams with the time-to-live
(TTL) field in the IP header set to 1; it then sends a series of one or more datagrams
towards the same destination with a TTL value of 2; it then sends a series of datagrams
towards the same destination with a TTL value of 3; and so on. Recall that a router must
decrement the TTL in each received datagram by 1 (actually, RFC 791 says that the
router must decrement the TTL by at least one). If the TTL reaches 0, the router returns
an ICMP message (type 11 – TTL-exceeded) to the sending host. As a result of this
behavior, a datagram with a TTL of 1 (sent by the host executing traceroute) will
cause the router one hop away from the sender to send an ICMP TTL-exceeded message
back to the sender; the datagram sent with a TTL of 2 will cause the router two hops
1 References to figures and sections are for the 7th edition of our text, Computer Networks, A Top-down
Approach, 7th ed., J.F. Kurose and K.W. Ross, Addison-Wesley/Pearson, 2016.
away to send an ICMP message back to the sender; the datagram sent with a TTL of 3
will cause the router three hops away to send an ICMP message back to the sender; and
so on. In this manner, the host executing traceroute can learn the identities of the
routers between itself and destination X by looking at the source IP addresses in the
datagrams containing the ICMP TTL-exceeded messages.
We’ll want to run traceroute and have it send datagrams of various lengths.
• Windows. The tracert program (used for our ICMP Wireshark lab) provided
with Windows does not allow one to change the size of the ICMP echo request
(ping) message sent by the tracert program. A nicer Windows traceroute
program is pingplotter, available both in free version and shareware versions at
http://www.pingplotter.com. Download and install pingplotter, and test it out by
performing a few traceroutes to your favorite sites. The size of the ICMP echo
request message can be explicitly set in pingplotter by selecting the menu item
Edit-> Options->Packet Options and then filling in the Packet Size field. The
default packet size is 56 bytes. Once pingplotter has sent a series of packets with
the increasing TTL values, it restarts the sending process again with a TTL of 1,
after waiting Trace Interval amount of time. The value of Trace Interval and the
number of intervals can be explicitly set in pingplotter.
• Linux/Unix/MacOS. With the Unix/MacOS traceroute command, the size
of the UDP datagram sent towards the destination can be explicitly set by
indicating the number of bytes in the datagram; this value is entered in the
traceroute command line immediately after the name or address of the
destination. For example, to send traceroute datagrams of 2000 bytes
towards gaia.cs.umass.edu, the command would be:
%traceroute gaia.cs.umass.edu 2000
Do the following:
• Start up Wireshark and begin packet capture (Capture->Start) and then press OK
on the Wireshark Packet Capture Options screen (we’ll not need to select any
• If you are using a Windows platform, start up pingplotter and enter the name of a
target destination in the “Address to Trace Window.” Enter 3 in the “# of times to
Trace” field, so you don’t gather too much data. Select the menu item Edit-
>Advanced Options->Packet Options and enter a value of 56 in the Packet Size
field and then press OK. Then press the Trace button. You should see a
pingplotter window that looks something like this:
Next, send a set of datagrams with a longer length, by selecting Edit->Advanced
Options->Packet Options and enter a value of 2000 in the Packet Size field and
then press OK. Then press the Resume button.
Finally, send a set of datagrams with a longer length, by selecting Edit-
>Advanced Options->Packet Options and enter a value of 3500 in the Packet Size
field and then press OK. Then press the Resume button.
Stop Wireshark tracing.
• If you are using a Unix or Mac platform, enter three traceroute commands,
one with a length of 56 bytes, one with a length of 2000 bytes, and one with a
length of 3500 bytes.
Stop Wireshark tracing.
If you are unable to run Wireshark on a live network connection, you can download a
packet trace file that was captured while following the steps above on one of the author’s
Windows computers2. You may well find it valuable to download this trace even if
you’ve captured your own trace and use it, as well as your own trace, when you explore
the questions below.
2 Download the zip file http://gaia.cs.umass.edu/wireshark-labs/wireshark-traces.zip and extract the file ip-
ethereal-trace-1. The traces in this zip file were collected by Wireshark running on one of the author’s
computers, while performing the steps indicated in the Wireshark lab. Once you have downloaded the
trace, you can load it into Wireshark and view the trace using the File pull down menu, choosing Open, and
then selecting the ip-ethereal-trace-1 trace file.
2. A look at the captured trace
In your trace, you should be able to see the series of ICMP Echo Request (in the case of
Windows machine) or the UDP segment (in the case of Unix) sent by your computer and
the ICMP TTL-exceeded messages returned to your computer by the intermediate
routers. In the questions below, we’ll assume you are using a Windows machine; the
corresponding questions for the case of a Unix machine should be clear. Whenever
possible, when answering a question below you should include a screenshot of the
packet(s) within the trace that you used to answer the question asked. When you submit
your assignment, annotate the output so that it’s clear where in the output you’re getting
the information for your answer (e.g., for our class, we ask that students annotate
electronic copies with text in a colored font). Make sure to include in your screenshot
ALL and ONLY the minimum amount of packet detail that you need to answer the
1. Select the first ICMP Echo Request message sent by your computer, and expand
the Internet Protocol part of the packet in the packet details window.
What is the IP address of your computer?
2. Within the IP packet header, what is the value in the upper layer protocol field?
3. How many bytes are in the IP header? How many bytes are in the payload of the
IP datagram? Explain how you determined the number of payload bytes.
4. Has this IP datagram been fragmented? Explain how you determined whether or
not the datagram has been fragmented.
Next, sort the traced packets according to IP source address by clicking on the Source
column header; a small downward pointing arrow should appear next to the word Source.
If the arrow points up, click on the Source column header again. Select the first ICMP
Echo Request message sent by your computer, and expand the Internet Protocol portion
in the “details of selected packet header” window. In the “listing of captured packets”
window, you should see all of the subsequent ICMP messages (perhaps with additional
interspersed packets sent by other protocols running on your computer) below this first
ICMP. Use the down arrow to move through the ICMP messages sent by your computer.
5. Which fields in the IP datagram always change from one datagram to the next
within this series of ICMP messages sent by your computer?
6. Which fields stay constant? Which of the fields must stay constant? Which fields
must change? Why?
7. Describe the pattern you see in the values in the Identification field of the IP
Next (with the packets still sorted by source address) find the series of ICMP TTL-
exceeded replies sent to your computer by the nearest (first hop) router.
8. What is the value in the Identification field and the TTL field?
9. Do these values remain unchanged for all of the ICMP TTL-exceeded replies sent
to your computer by the nearest (first hop) router? Why?
Sort the packet listing according to time again by clicking on the Time column.
10. Find the first ICMP Echo Request message that was sent by your computer after
you changed the Packet Size in pingplotter to be 2000. Has that message been
fragmented across more than one IP datagram? [Note: if you find your packet has
not been fragmented, you should download the zip file
http://gaia.cs.umass.edu/wireshark-labs/wireshark-traces.zip and extract the ip-
ethereal-trace-1packet trace. If your computer has an Ethernet interface, a packet
size of 2000 should cause fragmentation.3]
11. Screenshot the first fragment of the fragmented IP datagram (with sufficient
details to answer these questions). What information in the IP header indicates
that the datagram been fragmented? What information in the IP header indicates
3 The packets in the ip-ethereal-trace-1 trace file in http://gaia.cs.umass.edu/wireshark-labs/wireshark-
traces.zip are all less that 1500 bytes. This is because the computer on which the trace was gathered has an
Ethernet card that limits the length of the maximum IP packet to 1500 bytes (40 bytes of TCP/IP header
data and 1460 bytes of upper-layer protocol payload). This 1500 byte value is the standard maximum
length allowed by Ethernet. If your trace indicates a datagram longer 1500 bytes, and your computer is
using an Ethernet connection, then Wireshark is reporting the wrong IP datagram length; it will likely also
show only one large IP datagram rather than multiple smaller datagrams.. This inconsistency in reported
lengths is due to the interaction between the Ethernet driver and the Wireshark software. We recommend
that if you have this inconsistency, that you perform this lab using the ip-ethereal-trace-1 trace file.
whether this is the first fragment versus a latter fragment? How long is this IP
12. Screenshot the second fragment of the fragmented IP datagram (with sufficient
details to answer these questions). What information in the IP header indicates
that this is not the first datagram fragment? Are the more fragments? How can
13. What fields change in the IP header between the first and second fragment?
Now find the first ICMP Echo Request message that was sent by your computer after you
changed the Packet Size in pingplotter to be 3500.
14. How many fragments were created from the original datagram?
15. What fields change in the IP header among the fragments?