Common tools that I find most programmers (and even some network admins!!) know nothing about are the basic networking and DNS related utilities. Typically a service will stop working or errors will crop up and I find it’s a DNS related issue rather than a programming issue. I find this to be especially true when dealing with email servers.
In any case, when diagnosing problems about why your program can’t talk to a server, printer, or client, or when trying to gather information about an IP address or hostname, I find a few tools extremely helpful: Ping, Dig, Whois, and Nslookup.
All of these tools are basic tools included with any Linux distro, and some are even included with your windows machine (ping & nslookup). Below I will describe the common ways I uses these tools in my day to day life. What I present below are extremely simple summaries. Once you’re comfortable with the basics, and if you’re on a unix platform, you should read the man pages about them to understand all the additional options they have.
This particular blog post will concentrate on the ping utility. I will then follow up with posts on the other tools nslookup, dig, and whois to complete the series of information.